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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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    These remarks were given at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab

    I am best known, no doubt, for my criticism of education technology. And perhaps for that reason, people perk up when I point to things that I think are interesting or innovative (and to be clear, interesting or innovative because of their progressive not regressive potential).

    Often when I say that I think that the “Domain of One’s Own” initiative is one of the most important education technologies, I always hear pushback from the Twitter riffraff. “What’s so special about a website?” folks will sneer.

    Well, quite a lot, I’d contend. The Web itself is pretty special – Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a global hyperlinked information system. A system that was – ideally at least – openly available and accessible to everyone, designed for the purpose of sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors. That purpose was not, at the outset, commercial. The technologies were not, at the outset, proprietary.

    The World Wide Web just had its 28th anniversary, and Tim Berners-Lee penned an article – an “open letter” – in which he identified three major trends that he’s become increasingly worried about:

    • We’ve lost control of our personal data
    • It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the Web
    • Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding

    These are trends that should concern us as citizens, no doubt. But they’re expressly trends that should concern us as educators.

    I think we could slightly reword these trends too to identify problems with education technology as it’s often built and implemented:

    • Students have lost control of their personal data
    • By working in digital silos specially designed for the classroom (versus those tools that they will encounter in their personal and professional lives) students are not asked to consider how digital technologies work and/or how these technologies impact their lives
    • Education technologies, particularly those that enable “algorithmic decision-making,” need transparency and understanding

    (You can substitute the word “scholar” for “student” in all cases above, too, I think.)

    By providing students and staff with a domain, I think we can start to address this. Students and staff can start to see how digital technologies work – those that underpin the Web and elsewhere. They can think about how these technologies shape the formation of their understanding of the world – how knowledge is formed and shared; how identity is formed and expressed. They can engage with that original purpose of the Web – sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors – by doing meaningful work online, in the public, with other scholars. That they have a space of their own online, along with the support and the tools to think about what that can look like.

    It doesn’t have to be a blog. It doesn’t have to be a series of essays presented in reverse chronological order. You don’t have to have comments. You don’t have to have analytics. You can delete things after a while. You can always make edits to what you’ve written. You can use a subdomain. (I do create a new subdomain for each project I’m working on. And while it’s discoverable – ostensibly – this work is not always linked or showcased from the “home page” of my website.) You can license things how you like. You can make some things password-protected. You can still post things elsewhere on the Internet – long rants on Facebook, photos on Instagram, mixes on Soundcloud, and so on. But you can publish stuff on your own site first, and then syndicate it to these other for-profit, ad-based venues.

    I recognize that learning these technologies takes time and effort. So does learning how to navigate the VLE. Website design, I promise you – skills like HTML and CSS and Markdown – are going to look better on a CV than… well, no one boasts they can use a VLE except instructional technologists, and I don’t think the mission of Coventry is to graduate hundreds of those.

    I’m pretty resistant to framing “domains” as simply a matter of “skills.” Because I think its potential is far more radical than that. This isn’t about making sure literature students “learn to code” or history students “learn to code” or medical faculty “learn to code” or chemistry faculty “learn to code.”

    Rather it’s about recognizing that the World Wide Web is site for scholarly activity. It’s about recognizing that students are scholars.

    Washington State University’s Mike Caulfield has laid out a different set of concerns than Tim Berners-Lee’s (although I think they overlap substantially when it comes to questions of misinformation and democracy). Mike talks about the difference between what he describes as the “garden” and the “stream.” The stream are the other threats to the Web, I’d argue – these are Twitter and Facebook most obviously. The status updates and links that rush past us, often stripped of context and meaning and certainly stripping us of any opportunity for contemplation or reflection. The garden, on the other hand, encourages just that. It does so by design.

    And that’s the Web. That’s your domain. You cultivate ideas there – quite carefully, no doubt, because others might pop by for a think. But also because it’s your space for a think.

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    These remarks were given yesterday at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. I took part in a panel on "Technology-Enhanced Student Attainment and Retention" with Daniel Burgos from the International University of La Rioja and Lynn Clouder from Coventry University

    As I prepped for my remarks here, I did stop to think a bit about whether I’m the right respondent – am I a social scientist? My formal academic training was really much more in the humanities – I dropped out of a PhD program in Comparative Literature. I do have a graduate degree in Folklore Studies, which is a kin of anthropology and is a field that is a bit of both, I suppose: social sciences and the humanities. I do consider myself, in some ways, an ethnographer. What I am not – not really or not particularly well – is a quantitative researcher. Or at least, I’ve never taken a class in educational research methods, and it’s been about 20 years since I took a class in statistics. I have only the vaguest recollection of what p values are and why they’re significant (I think that’s a bit of word play. But I am not certain).

    What I do have, with full confidence, is a solid rolodex. I have friends who do education research and run regression tables for a living. And when press releases about studies on various education technologies cross my desk, I often ask for their help in deciphering the findings.

    That’s what journalists should do instead of relying on the PR or on the abstracts from journal articles – which in fairness, if you don’t have access to a research library is sometimes all you can read. That’s what academics and administrators should do instead of relying on the PR or on the salespeople who offer you freebies at conferences.

    But let me pause for a minute and restate that: when press releases about studies on various education software cross my desk… Press releases, my inbox is full of them – sometimes from universities, more often from the software makers themselves. Salespeople, the industry is full of them. There’s a lot of marketing about educational software. There’s a lot of hype about educational software. But that’s not necessarily because there’s a lot of solid research that demonstrates “effectiveness” or (and this is key) a lot of “good” ed-tech.

    And I’ll say something that people might find upsetting or offensive: I’m not sure that “solid research” would necessarily impress me. I don’t actually care about “assessments” or “effectiveness.” That is, they’re not interesting to me as a scholar. My concerns about “what works” about ed-tech have little to do with whether or not there’s something we can measure or something we can bottle as an “outcome”; indeed, I fear that what we can measure often shapes our discussions of “effect.”

    What interests me nonetheless are the claims that are made about ed-tech – what we are told it can do. I listen for these stories and the recurring themes in them because I think they reveal a number of really important things: what we value, who we value in education; how we imagine learning happens; what we think is wrong with the current model of teaching and/or system of education; what we think will fix all this; and so on.

    (I use that pronoun “we” in its broadest sense. Like “we all humans.” I do want us to recognize there are many, many competing values and many, many competing visions for education. And that means there are lots of opinions – many, many that are grounded in “research” and many, many that are peddled by researchers themselves – about what we should do to make teaching and learning “better.”)

    Why does attainment matter, for example? To whom does attainment matter? What do we mean by attainment? If it something we can measure? Is it something that education can actually intervene upon? If so, how? If so, in what ways? Why does retention matter? To whom does retention matter? Why? Why do we use words like “intervention” to describe our efforts to address “retention” or “attainment”?

    Do we use the word “intervention” because it’s a medical term? A scientific term? Are we diagnosing something about students?

    As such, I’m very interested in the phrase “technology-enhanced” in the title of this panel. First of all, I think it does underscore that what we do without technology – to attain, to retain – doesn’t work. (We can ask “doesn’t work for whom?) Let’s consider why not. Is it an institutional issue? A systemic, societal one? Is there something ”wrong“ with students? Do we see this as a human issue? Or, as it’s technology-enhanced,” is it an engineering problem?

    My concern, I think – and I repeat this a lot – is that we have substituted surveillance for care. Our institutions do not care for students. They do not care for faculty. They have not rewarded those in it for their compassion, for their relationships, for their humanity.

    Adding a technology layer on top of a dispassionate and exploitative institution does not solve anyone’s problems. Indeed, it creates new ones. What do we lose, for example, if we more heavily surveil students? What do we lose when we more heavily surveil faculty? The goal with technology-enhanced efforts, I fear, is compliance not compassion and not curiosity. So sure, some “quantitative metrics” might tick upward. But at what cost? And at what cost to whom?

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    This was the first-half of a joint presentation at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. The better half was delivered by Jim Groom. Our topic, broadly speaking: "a domain of one's own"

    “The Internet’s completely over,” Prince told The Daily Mirror in 2010. People laughed at him. Or many of the digital technorati did. They scoffed at his claims, insisting instead that the Internet was inevitable. The Internet was the future of everything.

    When it came to music, the technorati contended, no longer would any of us own record albums. (We wouldn’t own books or movies or cars or houses either. Maybe we wouldn’t even own our university degrees.) We’d just rent. We’d pay for subscription services. We’d stream singles instead. We’d share – well, not really “share,” but few would complain when a post-ownership society got labeled as such. Few would care, of course, except those of us struggling to make money in this “new economy.”

    Prince was wrong about the Internet, the technorati insisted. Turns out, Prince was right. The “new economy” sucks. It’s utterly exploitative.

    But many technorati would never admit that Prince was right – perhaps until Prince’s death this time last year when everyone hailed him as one of the greatest artists of our day. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example – an organization that, as its name suggests, sees itself as a defender of “Internet freedom,” particularly with regards to copyright and free speech online – had inducted Prince into the Takedown Hall of Shame in 2013, establishing and then awarding him with the “Raspberry Beret Lifetime Aggrievement Award for extraordinary abuses of the takedown process in the name of silencing speech.” Prince was, no doubt, notorious for demanding that bootleg versions of his songs and his performances be removed from the Web. He threatened websites like YouTube with lawsuits; he demanded fans pull photos and lyrics and cellphone videos offline. It was, until recently, almost impossible to find Prince’s music on streaming services like Spotify or video services like YouTube.

    And thus Prince was viewed by some as a Luddite. But many of those folks utterly misunderstood Prince’s relationship to technologies – much like many, I’d argue, misconstrue what the Luddites in the early nineteenth century were actually so angry about when they took to smashing looms.

    It was never about the loom per se. It’s always about who owns the machines; it’s about who benefits from one’s labor, from one’s craft.

    From the outset of his career, Prince was incredibly interested in computers and with technological experimentation – in how computers might affect art and relationships and creativity and love. He released an interactive CD-ROM in 1994, for example, a game that played a lot like another popular video game at the time, Myst. That video game was one of the few ways you could get ahold of the original font file for the symbol that Prince had adopted the previous when he officially changed his name. (His label was forced to mail floppy disks with the font to journalists so they could accurately write about the name change.) You could see Prince’s interest in computer technologies too in songs like “Computer Blue” from the Purple Rain soundtrack (1984) and “My Computer” from the album (his nineteenth) Emancipation (1996). The lyrics in the latter, which some argue presage social media – okay, sure – but perhaps more aptly simply reflect someone who was active in (or at least aware of) the discussion forums and chatrooms of the 1990s:

    I scan my computer looking 4 a site

    Somebody 2 talk 2, funny and bright

    I scan my computer looking 4 a site

    Make believe it’s a better world, a better life

    The following year, Prince released Crystal Ball, and in what was a novel move at the time, put all the album’s liner notes online, via a fairly new technology called a “Web site.” A few years later, Prince launched a subscription service that promised to give fans exclusive access to new music, again via a site he controlled.

    See, Prince didn’t hate the Internet per se, although he certainly had a complicated relationship with what has become an increasingly commodified and exploitative Internet and Web (one actively commodifying and exploiting not just musicians and recording artists). Rather, the problem that Prince identified with the Internet was that it enables – is built on, really – the idea of multiple digital copies, permission-less digital copying. And Prince has always, always fought to retain control of the copies of his work, to retain control of his copyright.

    “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,” Prince told The Daily Mirror in that 2010 interview.

    They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it."

    The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.

    He later clarified what he meant to The Guardian: “What I meant was that the internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that. Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?”

    If you’re wondering why I’m talking about Prince today and not education technology, you’re not paying close enough attention to the ways in which the ed-tech industry gets rich off of the creative work (and the mundane work) of students and scholars alike. Indeed, I wanted to invoke Prince today and talk a little bit about how his stance on the Internet – and much more importantly, his stance on the control and the ownership of his creative work – might help us think about the flaws in education technology and how it views ownership and control of data, how it extracts value from us in order to profit from our labor, our intellectual property. And I hope that by retelling the story of Prince and the Internet, by telling a counter-narrative to one that’s simply “Prince hated it,” we can think about what’s wrong with how ed-tech – as an industry and as an institutional practice – treats those doing creative and scholarly work. Not because we hate or resist the Internet, but because we want to build and support technologies that are not exploitative or extractive.

    Me, I will gladly echo Prince – I do so with the utmost respect and with a great deal of shock and sadness still to this day that he’s gone – “education technology’s completely over.”

    “If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you,” Prince told Rolling Stone in 1996, on the cusp of the release of his album Emancipation. (A master recording is the first, the original recording of a song, from which all subsequent copies are made.) Prince had famously battled with Warner Bros over his contract and his catalog. He’d recorded with the label from 1978 to 1996 – and that included his biggest hit record, Purple Rain. Fighting with Warner Bros had prompted Prince to change his name to the symbol. Born Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince discovered that he didn’t even own his own name, let alone his music. He hoped that by changing his name, he’d be able to get out of his contract – or at least protest its terms. He appeared with the word “slave” written on his cheek at the 1995 BRIT Awards. His ­acceptance speech at the event: “Prince. In concert: ­perfectly free. On record: slave.”

    In 2014, Prince signed a deal to get his masters back. He controlled his music. The original copies of his music. He could decide what to release and what not to release and when and how to release it.

    Prince fought for a long time with record labels, and arguably that makes his response to the new digital “masters” – Apple, Google, Spotify, and such – more understandable. But his assertions about masters and slaves are perhaps more than a little overstated, overwrought. And as such, I want to be a little cautious about making too much about a connection between the ownership of ideas and the ownership of bodies and how control and exploitation function in academia.

    In the US (and I’m not sure how this works in the UK), if you request a copy of your educational records from your university, they send you a transcript. That is, they send you a copy. You can request a copy of your articles from academic publications. Rarely – although hopefully increasingly – do authors retain their rights. Students often find themselves uploading their content – their creative work – into the learning management system (the VLE). Perhaps they retain a copy of the file on their computer; but with learning analytics and plagiarism detection software, they still often find themselves having their data scanned and monetized, often without their knowledge or consent.

    So I want us to think about the ways in which students and scholars, like Prince, find themselves without control over their creative work, find themselves signing away their rights to their data, their identity, their future. We sign these rights away all the time. We compel students to do so. We tell them that this is simply how the industry, the institution works. You want a degree, you want a record label, you must use the institutional technology. You must give up your masters.

    You needn’t. None of us need to. (Of course, none of us are Prince. Perhaps it seems a little overwhelming to fight the corporate masters like he did. But I believe that “domains” is one small step towards that.)

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  • 04/07/17--15:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Trump says the Secretary of Education is “highly respected.” Certainly this week’s news really really underscores how much:

    “What is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doing with the rapper Pitbull in Miami?” asks The Washington Post.

    What’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother doing in the Seychelles with a friend of Putin?

    Also via The Washington Post: “ The cost of Betsy DeVos’s security detail– nearly $8 million over nearly 8 months.”

    Betsy DeVos isn’t listening to parents,” according to an op-ed in USA Today. Pretty sure “meet with Pitbull” and “spend millions on protection services from the Federal Marshals” are not on anyone’s list of education priorities.

    “2 Education Dept. Picks Raise Fears on Civil Rights Enforcement,” The New York Times reports: “A lawyer who represented Florida State University in an explosive sexual assault case and another lawyer who during the 2016 presidential campaign accused Hillary Clinton of enabling sexual predators have been chosen for key roles in the Department of Education, raising fears that the agency could pull back from enforcing civil rights in schools and on college campuses.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Education Department Restores Pell Grant Eligibility for Students Whose Colleges Closed.” That is, shuttered for-profits like ITT Tech.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Congressional Republicans and the Trump White House appear poised to bring back year-round Pell Grant eligibility, which the Obama administration and Congress nixed in 2012 over cost concerns.”

    Via NPR: “Education Department Casts Doubts On Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”

    The New York Times’ Editorial Board weighs in on the Trump administration’s recent policy shift on student debt: “The Wrong Move on Student Loans.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education will end four experimental initiatives launched under the Obama administration granting participating institutions a waiver from certain statutes concerning federal student aid. Those initiatives, known as experimental sites, included a program popular with colleges allowing them to limit the unsubsidized loans a student could take out.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The FAFSA’s Midterm Grade.”

    In other financial aid news – via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “Hackers Had Access To Tax Data For Up To 100,000 FAFSA Users.”

    Via Edsurge: “What Federal Education Budget Cuts Mean for Edtech.” (No mention of the FAFSA tool, which is a good reminder than when Edsurge writes about ed-tech they really only mean what corporations can sell to schools.)

    Via the US News & World Report: “Melania Trump, Jordan’s Queen Tour Girls-Only Charter School.” (I think this is FLOTUS’s first appearance in the Hack Education Weekly News since the inauguration. Congrats, FLOTUS.)

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “New Law Nixing Broadband Privacy Protections Stirs K–12 Fears.”

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Completes Repeal of Online Privacy Protections From Obama Era.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via NPR: “Travel Ban’s ‘Chilling Effect’ Could Cost Universities Hundreds Of Millions.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Trump Cracks Down on H–1B Visa Program That Feeds Silicon Valley.”

    Via NPR: “Deported Students Find Challenges At School In Tijuana.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via NPR: “Judge Approves $25 Million Settlement Of Trump University Lawsuit.”

    The US has a new Supreme Court justice, (plagiarizer) Neil Gorsuch.

    The New York Times on pending legal cases involving trans students: “A Transgender Student Won Her Battle. Now It’s War.”

    Having dropped its appeal of the FTC ruling, “Amazon will refund millions of unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids,” Techcrunch reports.

    Via The New York Times: “U.K. Court Upholds Fine for Dad Who Took Child From School for Disney Trip.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The NY Daily News: “Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy High School is sitting out the city’s SAT School Day on Wednesday because the test doesn’t include the optional essay portion, a Success spokeswoman said.”

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: BernieSanders Keeps Focus on Free College.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The LA Times: “Westech College’s abrupt closure raises questions about training options.”

    Via Edsurge: “Student Results From Coding Bootcamp Coalition: 92% On-Time Graduation Rate, $70K Salary.” The results are self-reported based on a survey administered by a private student loan company which offers loans to coding bootcamp enrollees, but I’m sure it’s all on the up-and-up.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Coding Boot Camps Come Into the Fold With Campus Partnerships.”

    Via the Santa Fe Reporter: “Planned sale of Santa Fe University of Art and Design is scrapped as school stops enrolling new students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “With a federal government that now appears sympathetic to for-profit colleges, city officials in Milwaukee seek to block institutions that violate Obama-era regulations.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In the wake of federal criticism of its accreditation standards, the American Bar Association sanctions another for-profit law school.” That’d be Arizona Summit Law School.

    More on Pell Grant eligibility for for-profit students in the education politics section above. And the Trump University fraud case has been settled – more in the courts section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via the Coursera blog: “Coursera now offers free trials for most Specializations.”

    There’s some Udacity news in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Washington Post: “At U-Va., a ‘watch list’ flags VIP applicants for special handling.”

    Via The New York Times: “The Ivy League Sweep: Still Rare, but You’re More Likely to Hear About It.”

    Via the BBC: “News that a high school student wrote nothing but #BlackLivesMatter on his personal statement in an application to California’s Stanford University– and got in – has been raising some eyebrows.”

    Via ANOVA (FdB’s new blog): “Success Academy Charter Schools accepted $550,000 from pro-Trump billionaires.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Alt-Right Curriculum.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Libraries have become a broadband lifeline to the cloud for students.”

    Bryan Alexander on“Still more American university cuts and mergers.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Canadian government this week announced that it will provide 117.6 million Canadian dollars (about $87 million) to support universities in recruiting 25 top researchers from outside the country (including Canadian expatriates) to work at Canadian universities.”

    Via The New York Times: “Florida Prepares to Apologize for Horrors at Boys’ School.” That’s at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where decades of young boys – mostly African-Americans – suffered from abuse and neglect.

    Via eCampus News: “MIT BLOSSOMS enters first-of-its-kind partnership with charter school.”

    “Have Silicon Valley Teachers Using Technology Daily Altered Their Classroom Practice?” asks Stanford University’s Larry Cuban.

    Via The New York Times: “Digital Detox at Liberty University.”

    Accreditation, Certification, and Graduation Requirements

    Via The Washington Monthly: “ A Well-Intended Bad Idea: Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Chicago High Schools.” Honestly, Emanuel gets too much credit in that headline. It’s simply a bad idea. “Public high-school students would have to show a job or college acceptance to get a diploma,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

    Here’s a hate-read for you: “Your College Degree is Worthless.” Penned by a guy with multiple degrees who’s running an “apprentice at a startup” startup.

    Via Campus Technology: “ASU Students Earn Credits for Spending a Semester in Silicon Valley.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Media Attention at Morehouse College Will Trigger Investigation by Accreditor.”

    “Do Preschool Teachers Really Need to Be College Graduates?” asks The New York Times.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Accreditor Proposes Ban on Paying Recruiters of International Students.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “NCAA Puts North Carolina Back Into Mix After Repeal of ‘Bathroom Bill’.”

    Via CBS Sports: “Oregon’s run to 2017 Final Four has disturbing backdrop that can’t be overlooked.”

    There was some other basketball news, but I think I missed it.

    From the HR Department

    Jerks and the Start-Ups They Ruin” by Dan Lyons.

    Via Education Week: “California’s Top Superintendent Leaves for Ed-Tech Startup AltSchool.” Actually AltSchool hired more than one exec: Devin Vodicka (from Vista Unified School District in San Diego), Sam Franklin (from Pittsburgh Public Schools), Ben Kornell (from Envision Learning Partners), Colleen Broderick (from ReSchool), and Laura Hughes Modi (from AirBnB). The latter because someone had to go and shred the “Uber for Education” mantra bullshit, perhaps.

    Via NPR: “Kansas Student Newspaper’s Fact Check Results In New Principal’s Resignation.”

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Hiring Personalized-Learning Engineers,” says Education Week. Oh yay. “Learning engineers.” Thanks to everyone who promoted that bullshit phrase.

    Richard Culatta Named New Chief Executive Officer of ISTE,” Education Week reports. Culatta was the former head of the Office of Education Technology under President Obama.

    Via The Register Guard: “UO cutting 31 jobs, including 21 instructors from its largest college.” That’s the University of Oregon.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Udacity’s blog: “‘Valuable Skills’ and What This Means For The Future Of Learning.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via Bloomberg: “Student Debt Giant Navient to Borrowers: You’re on Your Own.”

    Google adds fact-check findings to search and news results,” says The Verge, adding “But it won’t do much about the fake news problem.”

    And it’s perfect really. Ad-based sites like Google screw up information and knowledge online. And then more money pours into other technology companies that promise to fix “news literacy.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Toy for Toddlers Doubles as Code Bootcamp.” Get them started on for-profit STEM education early, amirite.

    “It’s Important for Us to Be Critical of STEM Education Efforts,” says The Pacific Standard. Indeed.

    Coding for What?” [asks Stirling University’s Ben Williamson](Coding for What?).

    “Herding Blind Cats’: How Do You Lead a Class Full of Students Wearing VR Headsets?” asks Edsurge.

    Virtual Reality Could Transform Education as We Know It,” insists Education Week. Oh. I’m. Sure.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Manifold, a hybrid publishing platform created by the U of Minnesota Press and CUNY’s Graduate Center, launches in beta form with features supporting experimental scholarly work.”

    Via NPR: “How Two Georgia Tech Students Came Up With The Common App For Internships.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via The New York Times: “Learning to Think Like a Computer.”

    Via Edsurge, always ready to repeat the rather ludicrous claims Big Blue makes about its AI brand: “IBM Watson’s Chief Architect Talks Democratizing AI, Starting With Fifth Graders.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: AI and Cognitive Systems Spending to Hit $12.5 Billion Worldwide This Year.”

    Robots Are Changing The World,” says edX, which hopes to sell you on some classes on robots.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Remember MOOCs? My, how they’ve pivoted. Via Reuters: “Udacity Self-Driving Taxi Spin-Off Voyage Takes Aim at Uber.”

    Test-prep company Testbook has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Matrix Partners India. The company has raised $4.25 million total.

    Blackbaud has acquiredAcademicWorks.

    Vitalsource has acquiredVerba.

    According to Crunchbase, has received a $5 million grant from the PNC Financial Services Group.

    According to Edsurge, “Google, Lemann Foundation Invest $6.4M to Deliver Lessons to Brazilian Teachers’ Phones.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Pearson Share Prices Tumble on Worries About Online Ed. Prospects.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Edsurge: “Panorama Offers New Platform to Help Teachers Track Student’s SEL Growth.” Among the “social emotional” signals, the company tracks: grit and growth mindset, for which students get a score between 1 to 5. Sounds totally legit.

    Via Motherboard: “Phony VPN Services Are Cashing in on America’s War on Privacy.”

    “Major internet providers say will not sell customer browsing histories,” Reuters tells us, but let’s not be naive here.

    More on privacy legislation (or the end-of-privacy legislation) and federal financial aid privacy screw-ups in the politics section above.

    Data and “Research”

    Via investment analyst firm CB Insights: “High Marks: Ed Tech Deals Tick Up In Q1’17.” Here are my calculations on VC funding from the same time period, for what it’s worth.

    Via Chalkbeat: “‘Harlem diaspora’ sends local children to 176 different public schools, report finds.”

    Via The Pacific Standard: “The Lifelong Effects of Music and Arts Classes.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds library directors are moving forward with big reorganizations plans, but they also may be struggling to communicate those plans to administrators and faculty members.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The readability of scientific abstracts is declining, according to the preliminary results of a major study.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Brookings Institution Researchers Find Many Countries Lack High-Quality Education Data.”

    “More Data on International Applications” via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The New York Times: “Behind the Problem of Student Homelessness.”

    “Number of people who owe over $100,000 in student debt has quadrupled in 10 years,” according to MarketWatch.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal Reserve Bank of New York study suggests student loans don’t play a major role in limiting borrowers’ ability to buy a home later.”

    Daniel Willingham points to“New studies show the cost of student laptop use in lecture classes.”

    Via Education Week: “Implementation Woes Undermine Ambitious K–12 Ed-Tech Efforts, Study Finds.”

    Via Edsurge: “Survey Ranks 10 Key Trends for K–12 Tech Leaders.” The survey in question: “The fifth annual K–12 IT Leadership Survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking.”

    “Who’s on the List of Most Popular Edtech Organizations and Jobs?” asks Edsurge, which counts those “most popular edtech organizations and jobs” based on those who pay to have their stuff advertised on Edsurge.

    Questionable data about coding bootcamps in the “future of for-profit higher ed” section above.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 04/14/17--03:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    From the Department of Education’s press release: “U.S. Secretary of Education Announces Chief of Staff and Additional Staff Hires.” And what a fine bunch. Via ProPublica: “DeVos Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Said She Faced Discrimination for Being White.” Also on the list of new hires: Robert Eitel, “who had been criticized for his dual role as a top for-profit college official and Education Department adviser, has resigned from his position at Bridgepoint Education.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos Withdraws Obama-Era Memos Focused on Improving Loan Servicing.” Also via CHE: “DeVos’s Rollback of Servicing Guidance Raises Fears Among Borrowers’ Advocates.” More on the policy change via IHE. Here’s the very short press release from the Department of Education.

    Via The New York Times: “The Accusations Against Navient.” Navient is the country’s largest student loan provider.

    “Researchers say removal of an IRS tool for financial aid applicants may have slowed FAFSA submissions, while college aid groups warn that affected students could already be losing out on aid,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    “A bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate would open up Pell Grants to low-income students who earn college credits while still enrolled in high school,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    ESSA’s Flexible Accountability Measures Give PE Teachers (and Entrepreneurs) Hope,” says Edsurge. Well, thank goodness that entrepreneurs are hopeful.

    Special Ed School Vouchers and the Burden of a ‘Simple Fix’” by The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein.

    Via The New York Times: “Arizona Frees Money for Private Schools, Buoyed by Trump’s Voucher Push.”

    Via Boing Boing: “California’s charter schools: hundreds of millions of tax dollars for wasteful, redundant, low-quality education.”

    Via FOX 59: “State lawmakers say virtual pre-school will be part of pre-K bill.” State lawmakers in Indiana, that is.

    Via The Washington Post: Governor Scott “Walker wants Wisconsin to be first state to stop dictating how much time kids should go to school.”

    Via Raw Story: “White House solicits Sesame Street characters for Easter Egg Roll four days after bid to end PBS funding.” No one knew the White House Easter Egg Roll could be so complicated.

    Via Wired: “The New FCC Chairman’s Plan to Undermine Net Neutrality.”

    Via The New York Times: “New Mexico Outlaws School ‘Lunch Shaming’.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “California Shows The Rest Of The Country How To Boost Kindergarten Vaccination Rates.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Evolving Visa and Border Regime.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “Rolling Stone Settles Lawsuit Over Debunked Campus Rape Article.”

    Via the AP: “Michigan courts can have no role in admission decisions at faith-based schools, a lawyer told the state Supreme Court on Thursday in a case that tests whether a family can sue a Roman Catholic school over their daughter’s rejection.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “The list of test-optional colleges and universities keeps growing – despite College Board’s latest jab.”

    “Free College”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New York State Is Set to Test Free Tuition.” Note: readthe fine print. More on the proposal via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The New York Times: “New York’s Free-Tuition Program Will Help Traditional, but Not Typical, Students.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As New York Embraces a Free-Tuition Plan, Private Colleges Fear the Consequences.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    ProPublica looks at the Dream Center Foundation’s acquisition of the Education Management Corporation.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “South Carolina State University is the latest historically black institution to align with the University of Phoenix to expand its online education offerings.”

    Sante Fe University of Art and Design will close at the end of the 2017–2018 school year.

    Via Edsurge: “Tech Needs More Than Coders. This Bootcamp Will Train Sales Chops (and Even Pay For It).” The bootcamp in question: Sales Bootcamp.

    “Common (and Avoidable) Legal Pitfalls for Coding Bootcamps and Alternative Education Providers,” according to three lawyers writing for Edsurge.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via the Coursera blog: “New mobile features: Transcripts, notes, and reminders.”

    Udacity has updated its online "classroom."

    It’s lovely to see the big innovation from the MOOC startups in 2017 involves the learning management system.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The LA Times: “Boy, 8, and teacher slain in San Bernardino school shooting; gunman kills himself.” The Secretary of Education’s response; POTUS says nothing.

    Via The New York Times: “Sexual Abuse at Choate Went On for Decades, School Acknowledges.”

    Via NPR: “On The Navajo Nation, Special Ed Students Await Water That Doesn’t Stink.”

    Via The New York Times: “PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California.”

    Via NPR: “Where Corporal Punishment Is Still Used In Schools, Its Roots Run Deep.”

    Is college worth the cost?” asks PBS.

    Via NPR: “White Supremacists Trying To Recruit On College Campuses.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Open E-Credentials Will Transform Higher Education.” “These developments suggest that open e-credentials in 2017 are indeed as inevitable as e-commerce was in 1997.” LOL, okay.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A changing economy and professionalization is driving an increase in education requirements for child-care workers, but there are concerns about mandating higher degrees for a field that traditionally doesn’t pay well.”

    “Can States Tackle Police Misconduct With Certification Systems?” asks The Atlantic. Betteridge’s Law of Headlines tells us “no”, as does history and sociology.

    “Should High School Students Need A Foreign Language To Graduate?” asks NPR.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    LeBron James has emerged as an American education leader,” according to The Plain Dealer’s Phillip Morris.

    Via The Sun News: “CCU cheerleaders were paid up to $1,500 for dates, according to investigation.” That’s Coastal Carolina University.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA Moving to Stop Two-a-Day Football Practices.”

    Via The Atlantic: “How School Start Times Affect High-School Athletics.”

    From the HR Department

    Graduate students at American University have voted to unionize.

    Contests and Awards

    The winners of this year’s Harold W McGraw Jr Prize in Education: Dr. Christine Cunningham, Founder and Director of Engineering is Elementary (EiE) at the Museum of Science; Dr. Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia College; and Chris Anderson, TED “curator.”

    The winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes include Harvard University’s Matthew Desmond for his book Evicted and the Salt Lake Tribune’s staff for its reporting on sexual assault at BYU.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “Is Your Edtech Product a Refrigerator or Washing Machine?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Julia Freeland Fisher. Historian Jonathan Rees, author of Refrigeration Nation, has a wonderful response to this silly “disruptive innovation” mantra, noting how history gets rewritten to support certain ed-tech narratives.

    I love this headline from Campus Technology, which echoes the wise words of Bill and Ted from their excellent adventure: “Ed Tech Changes… and Stays the Same.”

    Via Nieman Lab: “ This ‘Wikipedia for fact-checking’ by students makes more room for context and origins of claims online.”

    Facebook gets in the “literacy” business. Not really. It’s still in the entertainment and advertising business. “Facebook’s News Literacy Advice Is Harmful to News Literacy,” says Mike Caulfield.

    Via Desmos: “The Desmos Geometry Tool.”

    Edsurge profiles Lexia Learning in a new research series paid for by a variety of investors and corporations. No mention that Lexia Learning is owned byRosetta Stone. Very thorough research, gj.

    Via CMX: “ How Edcamp Scaled Up 1,500 Community Events Connecting Educators All Over the World.”

    Pearson and Chegg are partnering for textbook rentals.

    “Ed access to VR growing as low-cost options expand,” says Education Dive. Folks really really really really want VR to be “a thing,” don’t they.

    “Why Fixing the Pipeline Alone Won’t End Edtech’s Diversity Problem,” says Edsurge.

    In other STEM news, Pornhub awards a “women in tech” scholarship. Because “Pornhub cares.”

    “What Would Happen If Learning in School Became More Like Working at a Startup?” asks Edsurge. More racial and sexual discrimination? More dismantling of public institutions in the name of John Galt?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Cost That Holds Back Ed-Tech Innovation.” Spoiler alert: humans.

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Growing Pains Begin to Emerge in Open-Textbook Movement.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via The Guardian: “The automated university: bots and drones amid the dreaming spires.”

    “Mixing Automation and a Human Touch, New Software Helps Keep Students ‘On Task’,” says Edsurge.

    AI Learns Gender and Racial Biases from Language” says Jeremy Hsu in IEEE Spectrum. But I’m sure keeping students “on task” as in the Edsurge story above is a totally progressive and unbiased initiative.

    Via Edsurge: “CSUEB Partners with Cognii to Offer Chatbot Services for Students.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    College Ave has raised $30 million in Series D funding from Comcast Ventures and Leading Edge Ventures. The private student loan company has raised $50 million total, but I’m told “fintech” doesn’t “count” as ed-tech so let’s just ignore this trend, right?

    Smart Sparrow has raised $4 million from Moelis Australia Asset Management, One Ventures, and Uniseed Ventures. The adaptive learning company has raised $16 million total.

    The Omidyar Network has invested $850,000 in the “future of tech” research organization Data & Society.

    Bomberbot has raised $795,000 from Social Impact Ventures. The learn-to-code company has raised $1.19 million total.

    TakeLessons has acquired digital sheet music company Chromatik.

    Venture/Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    “Who is the Walton Family Foundation Funding?” asks Diane Ravitch.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via the EFF: “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy.”

    And spying on children at home. Via TNW: “Amazon‘s new dashboard gives parents eyes on their kids’ browsers.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Where Every Student Is a Potential Data Point.”

    Via Vocativ: “This Teen’s Story Is Your Worst ‘Predictive Policing’ Nightmare.”

    Speaking of predictive policing… Via Edsurge: “This Mathematician Brought Big Data to Advising. Then Deeper Questions Emerged.” The story praises the work of Tristan Denley and his course recommendation tool Degree Compass.

    Via Education Week: “Algorithmic Bias a Rising Concern for Ed-Tech Field, RAND Researchers Say.”

    Structural Justice in Student Analytics, or, the Silence of the Bunnies” by Jeffrey Alan Johnson.

    “What Is the Future of College Marketing?” asks Jeffrey Selingo in part 3 of a series in The Atlantic on big data and higher ed. (Part 1 and part 2.)

    Big Data Alone Won’t Help Students,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Other stories in its “big data” series“: ”Big Data for Student Success Still Limited to Early Adopters.“ ”Big Hopes, Scant Evidence.")

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Keeping Up With the Growing Threat to Data Security.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “The Australian Approach to Improving Ph.D. Completion Rates.” Spoiler alert: “tracking the performance of those who supervise doctoral students.” Metrics, not humanity. Never humanity.

    Data and “Research”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Value, Number of Education Deals Plummet Over Most Recent Year.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “K–12 Schools Could Save Billions by Sharing Ed-Tech Prices, Report Says.” The report is from the Technology for Education Consortium. (I’ve written about the growing trend of companies and organizations selling procurement consulting services.)

    Via The Conversation: “ Who owns the world? Tracing half the corporate giants’ shares to 30 owners.”

    Jeb Bush’s ed-reform org ExcelinEd releases a data visualization tool based on school ratings data, Edsurge reports.

    Via MindShift: “Delay Kindergarten? Some Research Says, Enroll Anyway.”

    “For every $1 spent on SEL, there’s an $11 return,” says Education Dive, summarizing some Penn State and Robert Wood Foundation research into three bullet points.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study suggests female professors outperform men in terms of service– to their possible professional detriment.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Compensation survey from AAUP says faculty salaries are up slightly year over year, but institutional budgets continue to be balanced ‘on the backs’ of adjuncts and out-of-state students.”

    “Roughly two-thirds of undergraduates are paying more for college than is recommended by a common benchmark for affordability,” according to a report by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and New America.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study Examines Loan Aversion by Population.”

    RealClearEducation makes“The Case for Income Share Agreements.”

    “An update on the staggering mass of student loan debtby Bryan Alexander.

    “Has Underemployment Among College Graduates Gone Up?” asks Matt Bruenig.

    Via Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog: “University CS graduation surpasses its 2003 peak, with poor diversity.”

    Via NPR: “Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School.”

    A report from the Movement Advancement Project: “Segregation and Stigma: Transgender Youth and School Facilities.”

    “The Current State of Educational Blogging 2016,” according to Edublogs’ Sue Waters.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ithaka S+R and OCLC Research launch project to examine how universities and their libraries are changing.”

    Via the ANOVA: “Study of the Week: Computers in the Home.”

    Via Vox: “A new study finds political polarization is increasing most among those who use the internet least.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This article is part of my research into "who funds education technology," which I plan to expand with my Spencer Education Fellowship

    The Omidyar Network announced earlier this week that it has invested in Data & Society, a New York City-based research institute co-founded by danah boyd. The two-year $850,000 grant will fund Data & Society’s work on “the social and cultural issues arising from the development of data-centric technology.”

    The grant is just one of a slew of recent investments by the Omidyar Network in companies and organizations that work in and around education technology, including Khan Academy,, and Edsurge. And much like Edsurge (as well as another portfolio company, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept), the Omidyar Network’s investment in Data & Society certainly raises questions about that organization’s ability to be “independent” in its research and analysis.

    The Omidyar Network, a “venture philanthropy” firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, has invested over $1 billion in various projects – those run both by for-profit companies and not-for-profit organizations in finance, public policy, property rights, journalism, and education. According to its promotional materials, the Omidyar Network is “dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. We invest in and help scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change.”

    The “power of markets,” according to this investment approach, is a force for “social good.” However, the history and the impact of the Omidyar Network’s investments, particularly in the Global South, tell a very different story. It’s a story of neoliberalism; it’s a story of privatized investment at the expense of public infrastructure. And when it comes to education – in the Global North and South – that story is of profound political importance.

    The Omidyar Network’s Education Portfolio

    Where the dollars have gone:

    • African Leadership Academy (leadership training) – $1.5 million
    • African Leadership University (accredited university) – investment amount unknown
    • Akshara Foundation (private school chain in India) – $950,000
    • AltSchool (private school chain in the US) – $133 million
    • Andela (coding bootcamp in Africa) – $27 million
    • Anudip Foundation (coding bootcamp in India) – $850,000
    • Artemisia (entrepreneurial training and startup accelerator program in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • Aspiring Minds (career placement in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Bridge International Academies (private school chain in Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • (computer science career marketing) – $3.5 million
    • Common Sense Media (media education) – $4.25 million
    • Creative Commons (open licenses) – investment amount unknown
    • (crowdfunding school projects) – investment amount unknown
    • Edsurge (ed-tech marketing) – $2.8 million
    • Ellevation (English-language learning software in the US) – $6.4 million
    • EnglishHelper (English-language learning services in India) – investment amount unknown
    • FunDza (literacy program in South Africa) – $300,000
    • Geekie (adaptive learning platform in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • Guten News (literacy program in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • (annotation software) – $1.9 million
    • Ikamva Youth (after-school tutoring program in South Africa) – $1.33 million
    • IMCO (think tank in Mexico) – $202,500
    • Innovation Edge (early childhood education in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Kalibrr (predictive analytics for hiring in the Philippines) – investment amount unknown
    • Khan Academy (video-based instruction) – $3 million
    • LearnZillion (instructional content and professional development company in the US) – investment amount unknown
    • Linden Lab (best known as the maker of Second Life) – $19 million
    • Lively Minds (preschools in Ghana and Uganda) – $360,000
    • Numeric (tutoring program in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Open Knowledge (data and knowledge-sharing organization) – $2.64 million
    • Platzi (online coding classes) – $2.1 million
    • Reach Capital (venture capital firm) – investment amount unknown
    • RLabs (entrepreneurship training in South Africa) – $465,000
    • Siyavula (adaptive textbooks in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Skillshare (course marketplace) – $12 million
    • Socratic (homework help) – $6 million
    • SPARK Schools (a private school chain in Africa) – $9 million
    • Teach for All (Teach for America, globalized) – investment amount unknown
    • Teach for India (Teach for America but for India) – $2.5 million
    • The Education Alliance (organization supporting public-private partnerships in education in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Tinkergarten (marketplace for early childhood education) – $1.2 million
    • Varthana (private student loans in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Wikimedia Foundation (operator of Wikipedia) – investment amount unknown

    (Funding data drawn from Crunchbase and from the Omidyar Network’s website)

    Investment (as) Ideology

    In some ways, the Omidyar Network’s education investments look just like the rest of venture capitalists’: money for tutoring companies, learn-to-code companies, and private student loan companies.

    While many insist that the latter should not “count” as ed-tech, to ignore the companies offering private financing for education is to misconstrue the shape and direction that investors and philanthropists like Pierre Omidyar want education to take.

    It also obscures the shape and direction that these investors are pushing finance to take, particularly for the very poor and the “unbanked.” Indeed, microfinance initiatives in the developing world have been the cornerstone of the Omidyar Network’s investment strategy for over a decade now. This work has been incredibly controversial, and despite the hype about the promise of micro-loans – “financial inclusion” as the Omidyar Network calls it – the results from these programs have been mixed at best. That is, they have not pulled people out of extreme poverty but rather have saddled many with extreme debt. “Take SKS Microfinance,” write Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a 2013 profile, “an Omidyar-backed Indian micro-lender whose predatory lending practices and aggressive collection tactics have caused a rash of suicides across India.”

    (The winners in microfinance investing: the investors.)

    In a 2012 article in the World Economic Review, Milford Bateman and Ha-Joon Chang argue that “microfinance in international development policy circles cannot be divorced from its supreme serviceability to the neoliberal/globalisation agenda.” Nor can the Omidyar Network’s investment policy – in microfinance and beyond – be separated from its explicitly neoliberal agenda.

    That holds particularly true for its education investments. The Omidyar Network has backed, for example, which encourages teachers to crowdfund projects and supplies. “The end result,” write Ames and Levine, “is that it normalizes the continued strangling of public schools and the sense that only private funding can save education.”

    The Omidyar Network has backed AltSchool, a private school startup that blends algorithmic command-and-control with rhetoric about progressive education. “Montessori 2.0” and such. I recently spoke about AltSchool and its “full stack” approach to education – a technology platform that manages and monitors all digital activities and physical practices in the classroom. AltSchool is one of the most commonly-cited examples of how Silicon Valley plans to “disrupt” and reshape education.

    I find this “platforming” of education to be profoundly chilling (and profoundly anti-democratic), particularly with its penchant for total surveillance; but it’s probably Bridge International Academies that serves as the most troubling example of the Omidyar Network’s vision for the future of education.

    Bridge International Academies, which is also funded by the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – is a private school chain operating in several African countries that hires untrained adults as teachers. These teachers read scripted lessons from a tablet that in turn tracks students’ assessments and attendance – as well as teachers’ own attendance and pay. Families must pay tuition – this isn’t free public education – and the cost is wildly prohibitive for most. Moreover, outsourcing to scripted lesson delivery does not build the capacity – in terms of infrastructure or human resources – that many African nations need. As such expansion of Bridge International Academies has been controversial, and the Ugandan government ordered all the Bridge schools there to close their doors in August of last year. But earlier in the year, Liberia announced its plans to outsource its entire education system to Bridge International.

    So, while in the US we see neoliberalism pushing to dismantle public institutions and public funding for public institutions, in the Global South, these very forces are there touting the “power of markets” to make sure public institutions can never emerge or thrive in the first place. Investors like the Omidyar Network are poised to extract value from the very people they promise their technologies and businesses are there to help.

    Conveniently, the Omidyar Network’s investment portfolio also includes journalistic and research organizations that are also poised to promote and endorse the narratives that aggrandize these very technocratic, market-based solutions.

    Disclosure: I have done some paid research for Data & Society on school accountability, and I have published a couple of articles on its website.

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    This was what I said this evening at a panel at the University of Mary Washington as part of its Presidential Inauguration Week. The panel was titled "Higher Education in the Disinformation Age: Can America's public liberal arts universities restore critical thinking and civility in public discourse?" The other panelists included Steve Farnsworth (University of Mary Washington), Sara Cobb (George Mason University), and Julian Hayter (University of Richmond). I only had ten minutes, so my remarks really only scratch the surface.

    In February 2014, I happened to catch a couple of venture capitalists complaining about journalism on Twitter. (Honestly, you could probably pick any month or year and find the same.) “When you know about a situation, you often realize journalists don’t know that much,” one tweeted. “When you don’t know anything, you assume they’re right.” Another VC responded, “there’s a name for this and I think Murray Gell-Mann came up with it but I’m sick today and too lazy to search for it.” A journalist helpfully weighed in: “Michael Crichton called it the ”Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect," providing a link to a blog with an excerpt in which Crichton explains the concept.

    Apologies for quoting Crichton at length:

    Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

    Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story – and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

    That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.

    But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

    I remember, at the time, appreciating parts of this observation. Or at least, I too have often felt frustrated with the reporting I read on education and technology – topics I like to think I know something about. But I hope we can see how these assertions that we shouldn’t read and shouldn’t trust newspapers are dangerous – or at the very least, how these assertions might have contributed to our current misinformation “crisis.” And I’d add too – and perhaps this can be part of our discussion – that how we’ve typically thought about or taught “information literacy” or “media literacy” has seemingly done little to help us out of this mess.

    This isn’t just about Michael Crichton’s dismissal of journalism (and I’ll get to why he’s such a problematic figure here in a minute.) It’s the President. “Forget the press,” he said during the campaign. “Read the Internet.” It’s the digital technology industry – including those venture capitalists in my opening anecdote – which has invested in narratives and literally invested in products designed to “disrupt” if not destroy “traditional media.” Facebook. Twitter. Automattic (the developer of the blogging software WordPress). Despite the promises that these sorts of tools would “democratize” information, that the “blogosphere” and later social media would provide an important corrective to the failures of “mainstream journalism,” we find ourselves instead in a world in which institutions and experts are no longer trustworthy.

    And yet, all sorts of dis- and misinformation – on the Internet and (to be fair) on TV – is believed. And it’s believed in part because it’s not in print and not from experts or academics or certain journalists.

    I wanted to share this Michael Crichton story for a number of reasons. As I was preparing my remarks, I faced a couple of challenges. First, I couldn’t remember where or when I’d seen these tweets, although I was certain I’d first heard about the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect from venture capitalists on Twitter. Searching for old tweets – verifying Twitter itself as a source – is not easy. Twitter’s search function offers us to “See what’s happening right now.” The architecture of the platform is not designed as a historical record or source.

    I guess these tweets were the conversation I saw – I spent a lot of time looking through old VC tweets from 2013 and 2014 – although my memory tells me it was Tim O’Reilly, a different venture capitalist, who’d mentioned the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect and had caught my eye.

    When and if you do find an old tweet you’re looking for – as a scholar, perhaps, or as a journalist – it is stripped from its context within the Twitter timeline, within the user’s stream of tweets. What was happening on February 28, 2014 that prompted venture capitalist Dave Pell to complain about journalism? I couldn’t really divine.

    In this exchange, we have a series of other Internet-based information claims. Journalist Mathew Ingram links to a blog post to explain the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, but if you click, you’ll find all of the links in that particular post are dead, including the one that goes to “The Official Site of Michael Crichton.” If you google “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect,” the top search result is Goodreads, a book review site owned by Amazon. The excerpt there doesn’t give a date or a source or a link to Crichton’s commentary.

    The Internet doesn’t magically surface “the truth.” Its infrastructure can quite readily obscure things. You have to understand how to look for information online, and you have to have some domain expertise (or know someone with domain expertise) so you can actually verify things.

    The “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” comes from a talk titled “Why Speculate?” that Crichton gave in 2002 at the International Leadership Forum, a think tank run by the now-dormant Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. You can google this stuff, of course. Or maybe you know it. Maybe this is all, to borrow from Crichton “some subject you know well.”

    Maybe you’re familiar with Crichton too, or more likely you’ve heard his name – a best-selling author; medically trained, but never formally licensed to practice medicine; creator of the TV show ER; writer and director of the movie Westworld (the one with Yul Brenner); and author of many novels including Jurassic Park, The Andromedia Strain, Disclosure, and State of Fear. After the publication of Disclosure, Crichton was accused of being anti-feminist; after the publication of State of Fear, he sealed his status as one of the leading skeptics of global climate change.

    And this is all part of the message of that talk in which he argues for the existence of the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Journalism, Crichton contends, is almost entirely speculation. Sunday talk shows, speculation. Global climate change, speculation. “False fears.” Crichton blames the end of fact-checking on the praise for Susan Faludi’s feminist book Backlash. He blames academia, particularly post-modernism: “most areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation. In academia, speculation is usually dignified as theory.”

    This was 2002 – Crichton doesn’t blame the Internet. He doesn’t blame the Web. He doesn’t blame Facebook. He blames MSNBC. He blames The New York Times.

    2002 – A year before Judith Miller’s now discredited reporting on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq appeared in that very newspaper.

    In the past 15 years, I wonder if that the “amnesia effect” has worn off in some troubling rather than liberatory ways. Increasingly we trust very little that the media says. Last year, Gallup found Americans’ trust in the media had dropped to the lowest level in polling history. The media, as Crichton and others contend, is all speculation. “Fake news.”

    But it’s not just the media. We face a crisis in all our information institutions – journalism and higher education, in particular. Expertise is now utterly suspect. We mistrust (print) journalists – “the mainstream media,” whatever that means; we mistrust academics; we mistrust scientists.

    We still trust some stories sometimes. Importantly, we trust what confirms our pre-existing beliefs. Perhaps we can call this the Michael Crichton Ego Effect. We have designated ourselves as experts-of-sorts whenever we confront the news. We know better than journalists, because of course we do. (This effect applies most readily to men.)

    The Internet has made it particularly easy for us to confirm our beliefs and our so-called expertise. Digital technologists (and venture capitalists) promised this would be a good thing for knowledge-building; it appears, instead, to be incredibly destructive. And that's the challenge for journalism, sure. It's the challenge for universities. It's the challenge for democracy.

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  • 04/21/17--07:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The Military Times: “There’s a plan in Congress to start charging troops for their GI Bill benefits.”

    “Should DeVos Block an Embattled Student Loan Giant’s Expansion?” Bloomberg asks. That’s poor embattled Navient.

    Via The New York Times: “DeVos Halts Obama-Era Plan to Revamp Student Loan Management.”

    More on the business of student loans in the upgrades/downgrades section below.

    Via Pacific Standard: “Department of Education to Investigate Alleged Discrimination in Richmond Schools.”

    Via The Verge: “Trump administration says it won’t release White House visitor records.” The White House has also discontinued

    “The Next Higher-Ed Funding Battle to Watch May Be in New Mexico,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Immigration and Education

    Via USA Today: “First protected DREAMer is deported under Trump.”

    Tech Is Dominating Efforts To Educate Syrian Refugees,” reports NPR.

    Would-be students have many immediate needs. They have universally experienced some form of trauma. There is a lack of schools, teachers, books, uniforms and food. Yet, according to this study, nearly half of the donors have chosen to supply educational technology, far more than are building schools, providing basic books and materials or employing teachers.

    Trump Signs Order That Could Lead to Curbs on Foreign Workers,” The New York Times reports. More on changes to the H1-B visa programvia The Chronicle of Higher Education and Axios.

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Washington Post: “Supreme Court case could pave the way for vouchers for Christian schools– or do just the opposite.”

    Via Fortune: “These Popular Headphones Spy on Users, Lawsuit Says.” These popular headphones are the very expensive Bose headphones. Good thing no one in education is predicting that connected devices or the Internet of Things are the future, otherwise we’d have to be concerned about privacy in schools, right?

    Testing, Testing…

    Via Education Week: “Rhode Island drops unpopular standardized test system.”

    “Free College”

    NYT bore David Brooks has thoughts on “The Cuomo College Fiasco.”

    “Shut Up About Financial Literacy,” says Sara Goldrick-Rab.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    ESPN on the downfall of Forest Trail Sports University, an all-sports for-profit university.

    Via Edsurge: “Reactions to a College Alternative: Debating the Merits of MissionU.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via “Boy, 8, drives to McDonald’s after learning how online.”

    MOOCs Started Out Completely Free. Where Are They Now?” asks Dhawal Shah, founder of the site Class Central. (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge, which published this article, shares an investor with Class Central.)

    Via the Udacity blog: “Udacity Launches Mobile Developer Education with Facebook at F8.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via Mother Jones: “I Went Behind the Front Lines With the Far-Right Agitators Who Invaded Berkeley.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After one of its students was seen on video punching a woman at a protest in Berkeley, Calif., the president of California State University at Stanislaus said on Monday it had opened an investigation.”

    White supremacist Richard Spencer’s talk at Auburn was canceled, then un-canceled.

    Right-wing agitator Ann Coulter’s speech at UC Berkeley was canceled, then un-canceled.

    The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wants to write about something other than how students are protesting free speech on campus and destroying democracy; so college students, I guess you’re supposed to email him with your thoughts.

    Via The Washington Post: “‘I don’t like to be touched’: Video shows 10-year-old autistic boy getting arrested at school.”

    More handwringing about distracted students and technology in the classroomin The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of scholars object to a decision by the University of California, Berkeley, to remove many video and audio lectures from public view as a result of a Justice Department accessibility order.”

    Via NPR: “Schools Will Soon Have To Put In Writing If They ‘Lunch Shame’.”

    Salon plugs charter schools in rural areas.

    Last week, NPR covered the lack of clean water at schools on the Navajo Nation. This week, Edsurge covers a charter school there and its promotion of “personalized learning” and assessment technologies. Priorities.

    Via The New York Times: “Whittier Law School Says It Will Shut Down.”

    University of California’s Payroll Project Reboot Now At $504 Million,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Audit to examine questions on Peralta College district spending.”

    Via KHOU: “AR–15raffled for New Caney school charity.” That’s New Caney, Texas.

    Via The New York Times: “Dolly Parton College Course Combines Music, History and Appalachia Pride.” The course will be offered at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Campus Technology: “Education Department Database Publishes Accreditation Warnings.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA Moves to Alter Football Recruiting Rules.”

    Via “New IU policy bans athletes with history of sexual or domestic violence.” That’s Indiana University.

    More on sports and for-profit universities in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    From the HR Department

    DPLA executive director Dan Cohen will be stepping down from that role in June and joining Northeastern University as a provost/dean.

    Dallas Dance resigns as Baltimore County Schools superintendent,” The Baltimore Sun reports.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Black Teachers Are Leaving The Profession Due To Racism.”

    Contests and Awards

    Via the Education Writers Association: “2016 Finalists for the National Awards for Education Reporting.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Can There Be a Microscope of the Mind?” asks Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    “Do controversial figures have a right to speak at public universities?” asks The USA Today.

    “Can a District Disrupt the Edtech Industry?” asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Using virtual reality to step into others’ shoes.” Related from the radiator design blog: “‘If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes’: empathy machines as appropriation machines.”

    Via NBC Los Angeles, a profile on Caine Monroy, who five years ago create the cardboard Caine’s Arcade.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “American Historical Review, a flagship journal in history, has apologized for assigning a book about inequality and urban education to a professor who has been criticized by many as a white supremacist.”

    Via Education Week: “‘Personalized Learning’ Guidebook Geared to Rural Districts’ Needs.”

    Via MarketWatch: “America’s student loan giant Navient is about to get even bigger.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Government watchdog investigating discrimination in student loan servicing.”

    Via Edsurge: “Why Language Learning Apps Haven’t Helped Struggling ELL Students.”

    I didn’t pay close attention to Facebook’s developer event this week. But there were others there to transcribe the PR, so I’m sure you can easily find what glorious products and futures were promised. Via MIT Technology Review: “Facebook’s Sci-Fi Plan for Typing with Your Mind and Hearing with Your Skin.”

    In other FB-related news: “Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse.”

    Via Business Insider: “Planned Parenthood is following the ACLU’s lead and is joining a Silicon Valley startup accelerator.” Gross.

    Via The Economist: “Silicon Valley’s sexism problem” – “Venture capitalists are bright, clannish and almost exclusively male.”

    What higher ed can learn from American Express, according to venture capitalist Ryan Craig.

    Via Boing Boing: “Prison inmates built working PCs out of ewaste, networked them, and hid them in a closet ceiling.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Techcrunch: “Robot tutor Musio makes its retail debut in Japan.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Lumen Learning has raised $3.75 million in Series A funding from the Follett Corporation, Alliance of Angels, and the Portland Street Fund. The open courseware startup has raised $6.25 million total. Coverage and reactions from Edsurge, Inside Higher Ed, Geek Wire, Lumen co-founder David Wiley, Stephen Downes, Wiley again (responding to Downes), Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill, and Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    Thinkster Math, formerly known as Tabtor Math, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the Jefferson Education Accelerator. The math tutoring company has previously raised $4.7 million.

    Frontline Education has acquired job search site Teachers-Teachers.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    Via The New York Times: “How Top Philanthropists Wield Power Through Their Donations.” Related, by me: “The Omidyar Network and the (Neoliberal) Future of Education.”

    Via Edsurge: “New Profit Dishes Out $1M to 7 Organizations in Personalized Learning Initiative.” New Profit is a new venture philanthropy firm funded by the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. (Disclosure alert, no surprise.)

    Via Edsurge: “Houston Community College Receives $300K to Develop Z-Degree Program.” The money comes from the Kinder Foundation. Z-Degrees are programs with zero dollars worth of textbook costs.

    Via Edsurge: “Couragion Receives $750k Through Small Business Innovation Research Grant.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Edsurge: “Schoolzilla‘File Configuration Error’ Exposes Data for More Than 1.3M Students, Staff.” (Disclosure alert: no mention in the story of Edsurge’s shared investor with Schoolzilla.)

    “He’s got access to your students’ info and is trying to decide what to do. Now what will YOU do?” asks

    The University of California’s press office announced the school “has uncovered a massive scheme targeting students through its student health plan that fraudulently obtained student information and then stole almost $12 million from UC by writing phony medical prescriptions in the students’ names.”

    “Online Courses Shouldn’t Use Remote Proctoring Tools. Here’s Why,” says Edsurge.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Counting attendance in school ratings could be smart – or completely misleading.”

    Via the ANOVA: “Study of the Week: Discipline Reform and Test Score Mania.”

    Via Edsurge: “Panorama’s Student Progress Reports Show More Than Grades (Think Behavior and SEL).” (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge shares an investor with Panorama.)

    Via iNews: “University to monitor student social media to gauge well-being.” That’s the University of Buckingham, and this idea sounds awful.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “An Instructor Saw Digital Distraction in Class. So She Showed Students What She’d Seen on Their Screens.”

    The lack of respect shown for students’ privacy never ceases to amaze me.

    Blackboard says it is “Putting data in the hands of students.” (Not really. The LMS is displaying some of students' data back at them.)

    Data and “Research”

    “So Far in 2017, Pace of Investment Into Ed Tech Bouncing Back,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief, drawing on a report from investment research firm CB Insights. (Reminder: you can find my analysis on ed-tech investment at

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “PayScale’s Impact (and Limitations).”

    Via Quartz: “For half a century, neuroscientists thought they knew how memory worked. They were wrong.”

    UVA’s Daniel Willingham on research on computers and children’s social lives.

    Via Edsurge: “Interest in Online Higher Ed Gain (But Campus-Based Programs Wane).” That’s according to a report from a consulting firm, Gray Associates.

    Support for public higher education rose in 33 states and declined in 17 in 2016 – including a massive drop in Illinois,” according to figures in the 2016 State Higher Education Finance report.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Pathway to a College Presidency Is Changing, and a New Report Outlines How.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “UNESCO Paper on Gaps in Global Completion Rates.”

    “A growing body of research shows that full-time college students are more likely to graduate, yet experts caution against policies that neglect part-time students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via WaPo: “Minority teachers in U.S. more than doubled over 25 years – but still fewer than 20 percent of educators, study shows.”

    Bryan Alexander on a report from the Institute for the Future: “Americans versus the future.”

    Via Education Week: “Augmented, Virtual Reality Yet to Gain Traction in K–12, Survey Finds.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 04/26/17--05:43: Un-Annotated
  • I have added a script to my websites today that will block annotations – namely those from Genius and those from I have been meaning to do this for a while now, so it’s mostly a project that comes as I procrastinate doing something else rather than one that comes in response to any recent event.

    I took comments off my websites in 2013 because I was sick of having to wade through threats of sexualized violence in order to host conversations on my ideas.

    My blog. My rules. No comments.

    I’ve made this position fairly well known – if you have something to say in response, go ahead and write your own blog post on your own damn site. So I find the idea that someone would use a service like to annotate my work on my websites particularly frustrating. I don’t want comments– not in the margins and not at the foot of an article. Mostly, I don’t want to have to moderate them. I have neither the time nor the emotional bandwidth. And if I don’t want to moderate comments, that means I definitely do not want comments to appear here (or that appear to be here) that are outside my control or even my sight.

    This isn’t simply about trolls and bigots threatening me (although yes, that is a huge part of it); it’s also about extracting value from my work and shifting it to another company which then gets to control (and even monetize) the conversation.

    Blocking annotation tools does not stop you from annotating my work. I’m a fan of marginalia; I am. I write all over the books I've bought, for example. Blocking annotations in this case merely stops you from writing in the margins here on this website.

    0 0
  • 04/28/17--07:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Orders Review of Education Policies to Strengthen Local Control.” “ What does Trump’s executive order on education do? Not much,” says The LA Times’ Joy Resmovits.

    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “Trump’s rather weird meeting with the 2017 Teachers of the Year.”

    Via The Hill: “21 state AGs denounce DeVos for ending student loan reform.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Education Department relaxes financial aid process in the absence of IRS tool .”

    In other Department of Education bureaucratic nightmares, “Dozens of Colleges’ Upward Bound Applications Are Denied for Failing to Dot Every I,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The House Veterans Affairs Committee this week postponed a planned hearing on potential updates to the GI Bill amid growing opposition to a proposal that would require new service members to pay into the GI Bill for future benefits.”

    New hires at the Department of Education include former HP exec Holly Luong Ham (she will serve as the assistant secretary for management) and former Congressional staffer Liz Hill (she’ll serve as the press secretary). Elsewhere in the administration, Trump’s new State Department spokesperson “spread toxic anti-Muslim stories for years,” says The Intercept, highlight a segment where former FOX anchor Heather Nauert described swim classes for Somali-American girls as “Sharia Law.”

    Via Education Week: “FCC Chairman Announces Plan to Roll Back Key Net Neutrality Rules.” The Trump Administration is calling it “restoring Internet freedom,” because of fucking course.

    Via Chalkbeat: New York City“Mayor Bill de Blasio announces plan to expand universal pre-K to 3-year-olds.” (“What do we really know about the value of prekindergarten?” asks WaPo’s Valerie Strauss, before reprinting an article by UVA professor Dan Willingham.)

    The NAACP endorses OER.

    The New York Times on the conservative think tank The Heartland Institute’s efforts towards “Sowing Climate Doubt Among Schoolteachers.” (Not to mention The New York Times’ own efforts to sow climate doubt.)

    Via Infodocket: “Two U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Keep Government Research Data Publicly Available (Preserving Data in Government Act).”

    A bill that would let the President pick the next Register of Copyrights has passed the House of Representatives.

    The Rwandan government plans to roll out digital education this summer. It’s a partnership with Microsoft.

    The Egyptian parliament is weighing doing away with print textbooks and using digital materials instead. “5 Reasons Why e-textbooks in Egypt Would Be Inequitable” by Maha Bali.

    Via the BBC: “University staff from EU countries should be guaranteed a right to stay and work in the UK after Brexit to avoid a ‘damaging brain drain’, says a report from MPs.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The New York Times: “Judge Blocks Trump Effort to Withhold Money From Sanctuary Cities.”

    Via EdSource: “1 in 8 children in California schools have an undocumented parent.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via KIRO7: “Charges filed after University of Washington shooting outside Milo Yiannopoulos event.” “Prosecutors say Elizabeth Joy Hokoana, 29, and her husband, Marc K. Hokoana [supporters of Yiannopoulos, let me editorialize] ‘created a situation designed to allow Elizabeth Hokoana to shoot the victim in the middle of an extremely crowded event under the guise of defending herself or her husband.’”

    Via The Washington Post: “Lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley for canceling Ann Coulter speech.” More on Coulter cancelling her speech in the campus section below.

    Via NPR: “West Virginia State University Says It Is Suing Dow Chemical For Contamination.”

    Via Multichannel News: “Trayvon Martin Attorney Parks Targets AT&T Over Alleged Broadband Redlining.” (In Cleveland.)

    More on sanctuary cities in the courts in the immigration section above. More on the NCAA’s legal battles in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    “Nation’s Report Card Finds Mixed Grades For U.S. Students In Visual Arts, Music,” NPR reports. The “nation’s report card” is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. And I hardly noticed any freak out about these scores this week like there usually is about math scores. Weird. It’s almost as though the narrative about “failing schools” doesn’t care much about students’ creativity.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Purdue University is buying Kaplan Universityfor a dollar. Will this “new university” become a public university? Or something else? That is, will faculty have the benefits of other public universities in the state? (Wait, do Indiana professors still have benefits?) Dunno. But it’s a sign of the times, says The Chronicle of Higher Education. “A bold move,” says Inside Higher Ed. Edsurge’s Jeff Young and Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill both asked industry analyst Trace Urdan for his take. I’m waiting for Tressie McMillan Cottom’s response, as she’s certainly unlikely to hype the industry angle and will surely raise the important issues surrounding equity, “lower ed,” and justice. Me, I wrote about how far Kaplan Inc’s reach is in education politics and products.

    Elsewhere: “North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has opened an investigation into Charlotte School of Law,” says Politico.

    More on the University of Phoenix’s new president in the HR section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Online education pioneer Tony Bates asksWhat is online learning?”

    EdX has launched some new “professional certificate programs.”

    From the press release: “ MOOCs and books initiative launched by Springer and Federica Weblearning.”

    Via NBC News: “How to Thrive: Arianna Huffington Launches E-Learning Series.” (It’ll run on LinkedIn Learning, formerly, which means it’ll cost you $24.99 a month.)

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    How the school-to-prison pipeline targets students of color, via Mic: “This Texas 6th-grader was threatened with suspension all because of a haircut.”

    Via The New York Times: “Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens.”

    Right-wing troll Ann Coulterpulled out of her talk at UC Berkeley, because “because she had lost the backing of conservative groups that had initially sponsored her appearance.” Good grief, the handwringing. “We Have Been Here Before,” says Swarthmore history professor Timothy Burke.

    More in the courts section above on the charges filed against a person who shot a protestor at a Milo Yiannopoulos event at the University of Washington early this year. There’s also a lawsuit against UC Berkeley for cancelling Coulter’s speech (which I haven’t heard will move forward since Coulter was the one who cancelled.)

    Via The Southern Poverty Law Center: “New Alt-Right‘Fight Club’ Ready for Street Violence.” But sure, let’s condemn “liberal college students” as the problem.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Middlebury Professor Sorry for Co-Sponsoring Murray Talk.”

    Via Newsweek: “Rand Paul to Teach ‘Dystopian Visions’ Course at George Washington University.”

    Via The LA Times: “University of California administration is paying excessive salaries and mishandling funds, state audit says.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Janet Napolitano Disputes Finding That Her Office Held $175 Million in Undisclosed Funds.”

    Via Democracy: “The Untold History of Charter Schools.”

    Gotta love a quote like this, from a story in Edsurge profiling McComb, Mississippi’s Summit Elementary School: “We are learning how to mitigate between policy and trying to be as innovative as possible without breaking state laws.” I’m more interested in hearing about segregation and state laws in Mississippi than the adaptive learning software a school is using. But hey.

    Edsurge offers“Your Guide to Running a School Like Disney World.” Oh. My. God.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “With number of student-parents up, availability of campus child care is down.”

    Via The New York Times: “In New York City Schools, an Ever-Rising Tide of Homeless Students.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “Why Germany Educates International Students for Free.”

    Via the Hong Kong Free Press: “China’s 8m graduates: Inside the world’s largest higher education boom.”

    Via The New York Times: “At Hungary’s Soros-Backed University, Scholars Feel a Chill.”

    “National Association of Scholars calls on universities to close their Confucius Institutes. Defenders say there’s nothing sinister about the Chinese-backed centers,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Pitchfork: “Beyoncé Launches ‘Formation Scholars’ Scholarship Program.” The scholarship, “for young women studying creative arts, music, literature, or African-American studies,” will be offered to students at Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College.

    Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has doubled down on his prediction that half of all universities might close or go bankrupt within 10 to 15 years. He first made this prediction 6 years ago, so we’re looking at 4 to 9 years out, I guess. For what it’s worth, according to the latest data from the NCES, the number of post-secondary institutions in the US has increased since 2011. (Increased by just 2, but still.)

    Accreditation and Certification

    “When a College Degree Isn’t Enough,” according to The Atlantic.

    Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s deputy assistant and a fan of wearing Nazi memorabilia, might have a fake PhD.

    Inside Higher Ed reports on problems at Tallahassee Community College after students discovered their health IT program was not properly accredited.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Pac–12 Conference infringed on labor laws and thus owed money to a former Division I football player,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    From the HR Department

    Kristina Johnson, formerly an under secretary in the US Department of Energy under President Obama, has been named the new Chancellor of SUNY.

    Peter Cohen, formerly the executive VP of McGraw-Hill Education, has been hired as the new president of the University of Phoenix.

    Russell “Rusty” Greiff has joined2U as its senior VP and regional general manager. Greiff has previously been a partner at the 1776 venture fund and he was also a co-founder of the test prep company Grockit.

    Jeff Fernandez, the co-founder of the online learning company Grovo, has resigned. His other two co-founders are gone from the company too, says Axios’ Dan Primack.

    Perhaps this will help the Grovo fellows: “Tips for Landing an Edtech Gig – From the EdSurge Jobs Team.” (Wow. This image speaks volumes.)

    On the hiring of serial predators: “Ousted Over Sexual Misconduct Claims, and On to the Next Teaching Job.”

    Students Oppose Pomona College’s Hiring of Alice Goffman as a Visiting Scholar," The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Resident Advisers Gain the Right to Unionize.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Liberal Arts Colleges, in Fight for Survival, Focus on Job Skills.”

    It’s not a “skills gap,” says Edsurge. It’s an “awareness gap.”

    The Hechinger Report profilesMechatronics Akademie, “a modern iteration of career and technical education for high school students. Created through a partnership between the local department of education, the Volkswagen Chattanooga factory and Chattanooga State Community College, it uses online and in-person instruction in an out-of-school setting to prepare students who might not pursue higher education after high school.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    It’s 2017, and Wired still promotes a narrative that hackers” are all young men. Good job.

    Here’s the headline from The Next Web: “Universities finally realize that Java is a bad introductory programming language.” But thing is, most universities already do not teach Java as the intro language. The most commonly taught language is now Python. But do strive to maintain the narrative that universities are out-of-date and irrelevant, tech blog.

    There have been several stories recently calling the Google Books project a failure. The Executive Director of HathiTrust responds.

    Internet Archive to ignore robots.txt directives,” says Boing Boing.

    Via Techcrunch: “As Chromebook sales soar in schools, Apple and Microsoft fight back.”

    Google announces more updates to its pseudo-LMS, Google Classroom.

    Inside Higher Ed examines the challenges facing LMS provider Blackboard.

    Via Campus Technology: “Pearson Expands Textbook Rental Program.”

    Meal kits seem to be a popular startup idea right now. So no surprise, Techcrunch informs us that “Scrumpt now offers fresh, healthy lunches for kids.”

    The Gap advertises tenure track professor wear.

    Not directly ed-tech related, but with all the algorithmic learning hype, I thought I’d include this story anyway: “FaceApp apologizes for building a racist AI.”

    “How Can VR be Used for Learning?” asks Jade E. Davis on the DML Central blog.

    Snapchat’s smart pivot into an AR company but is AR ready for learning?” asks Donald Clark.

    Via Edsurge: “Khan Academy’s New ‘Teacher Aid’ Tool Goes for a Test Drive in Southern California.” There’s a data dashboard, so you know it simply has to be useful.

    IHE ed-tech blogger Joshua Kim wonders“Who Exactly Holds This Neoliberal EdTech Ideology?” Shrug.

    Via The Financial Times: “ Inside Liberia’s controversial experiment to outsource education.” That’s to the ed-tech company Bridge International Academies. Nope. No neoliberalism anywhere in ed-tech.

    Inside Higher Ed reports thatFannie Mae, the largest backer of mortgage credit in the country, has issued new guidelines allowing home owners to refinance their mortgages to pay off their student loan debt. The option to essentially swap student loan debt for mortgage debt is an expansion of a program launched last year with personal finance company SoFi.”

    Via Techcrunch: “CommonBond now offers direct student loans alongside debt refinancing.”

    Via Buzzfeed: Navient, “America’s largest student loan company was also the most-complained-about financial services company in the country over the last three months, according to new government data released on Tuesday.” Nope. No neoliberalism here. Move along.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    According to Research and Markets’ latest forecast, “the artificial intelligence market in the US education sector to grow at a CAGR of 47.50% during the period 2017–2021.”

    Via CNBC: “Google exec, Mark Cuban agree that these college majors are the most robot-resistant.”

    Learn-to-code toy Ozobots is launching Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy branded robots.

    Inside Higher Ed looks atdrones (and rules about drones) on college campuses.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    EverFi has raised $190 million in a Series D round of funding from The Rise Fund, TPG Growth, Advance Publications, Allen & Company, Eric Schmidt, Ev Williams, Jeff Bezos, and Main Street Advisors. The online “off-curriculum” education company has raised $251 million total.

    EverFi also announced this week that it’s acquired the online compliance training company Workplace Answers.

    MarcoPolo Learning has raised $8.5 million from Boat Rocker Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Seedcamp, and DST Global. The mobile app maker has raised $11.9 million total.

    CollegeVine has raised $3.6 million from Morningside Technology Ventures, University Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank. The admissions consulting service has raised $6.7 million total.

    In February, Holberton School announced it had raised $2.3 million in funding. This week, there were more details about who those investors are – including R&B artist Ne-Yo who will join the coding school’s board of directors.

    Square is acquiring the engineering team from Yik Yak for less than $3 million. Yik Yak has raised $73.5 million in funding.

    Via Edsurge: “The Asian Money Fueling US Edtech Investments.”

    Although this Wall Street Journal article is about the tech industry broadly, it’s still worth noting: “Once-Flush Startups Struggle to Stay Alive as Investors Get Pickier.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The New York Times: “In China, Daydreaming Students Are Caught on Camera.”

    Via The Red & Black, an independent student paper serving the University of Georgia: “UGA Dining Halls to introduce eye scanners.”

    Via “Pour la CNIL, ‘la France doit garder la souveraineté de ses données scolaires’.”

    Via Education Dive: “Casper College looks to Amazon approach to customize student experiences.” “Shouldn’t we be able to use our LMSes to aggregate the experience of every student based on the DNA of their self-selected digital assets?” the CIO asks. No. You shouldn’t.

    Speaking of why Amazon is a terrible model for education, via Motherboard: “Amazon Wants to Put a Camera and Microphone in Your Bedroom.” “Echo Look will use machine learning to decide if you look fat in that shirt.”

    Smart Sparrow Adds Learner Data Analytics,” says Campus Technology.

    Edsurge profiles“literacy” app Newsela and claims “super users” want more data sharing. No disclosure that Newsela and Edsurge share investors.

    Via Duo Labs: “Phishing Across the Pond: 70% of U.K. Universities Impacted.”

    Cyber criminals are sharing millions of stolen university email credentials,” says USA Today.

    “Should We Be Sending Students Who Hack Their Schools to Jail?” asks Doug Levin. No.

    The list of questions Edsurge says schools are supposed to ask ed-tech vendors contains no mention of privacy or information security.

    The 4 Issues AltSchool Needs to Figure Out to Scale Its ‘Personalized Learning’ Platform” also do not include privacy or security. Perhaps that is how you “scale.”

    Data and “Research”

    Via The Guardian: “Teenage hackers motivated by morality not money, study finds.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A report released Tuesday by the Science Coalition identifies 102 companies whose creation was fueled by competitive federal research grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.” (The point: do not defund those agencies.)

    Prediction press release service Research and Markets says that the “global cloud-based English language learning (ELL) market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.07 percent from 2017 to 2021.”

    The ANOVA “study of the week”: “When It Comes to Student Satisfaction, Faculty Matter Most.” (Also via FdB: “the Official Dogma of Education (version 1.0).”)

    A report via Google Research: “Unconscious Bias in the Classroom.”

    Via Education Week: “Better-Educated Families Less Likely to Choose Pa. Cyber Charters, Study Finds.”

    Here’s a headline to side-eye, via The Federalist: “Dartmouth Study Finds Democrats Are The Least Tolerant Students On Campus.”

    “The Prevalence of Hook-Up Culture on College Campuses Is Completely Exaggerated – and That’s a Problem,” says The Pacific Standard, drawing on research by St. Vincent College professor Jason King.

    The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson looks at research on how racism affects math education.

    The NMC Horizon Report 2017 – the Library Edition

    Pew Research asks, “In America, Does More Education Equal Less Religion?”

    Why is the student veteran graduate rate so low, asks The Atlantic.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students from American families with the highest incomes are almost five times likelier than students from the poorest families to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24, a new report shows.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “On average, white and Asian students earn a college-level credential at a rate about 20 percentage points higher than Hispanic and black students do, a new report shows.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Whose Undergraduates Borrowed the Highest Average Amounts in Federal Loans in 2014–15.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics finds that 63 percent of college graduates still held student loan debt within four years of earning their degree.”

    “A report released Thursday found largely negative results for students who participated in the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, suggesting that many of the program’s beneficiaries might actually fare better if they turn down the private-school money,” says The Atlantic, asking how this will affect the Trump administration’s position on vouchers. (Trick question!)

    Vouchers for students with disabilities aren’t always what they seem,” says Harvard Education’s Laura Schifter.

    Charter-advocate publication The 74 boasts that “U.S. News Ranks America’s Top Public High Schools – and for the First Time, Charters Dominate Top 10,” but let’s perhaps consider how the US News and World Report’s rankings are pretty questionable to begin with.

    Via The Cambridge Student: “National student boycott invalidates National Student Survey data.” I learned during my recent trip to the UK that the National Student Survey is a Very Big Deal, and by the sounds of it, its invalidation might be Very Good News.


    Via Berkeley News: “Hubert Dreyfus, preeminent philosopher and AI critic, dies at 87.” Read What Computers Can’t Do, and think more critically about how we define “reason” and “intelligence” and machine interventions in education.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/05/17--07:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education.”

    School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

    The bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday will cut Medicaid by $880 billion.

    Via Education Week: “Congress Budget Deal Bans New Gold-Standard Studies of Federal Vouchers.” Banning research on school vouchers? Gee, I wonder why.

    Via The Pacific Standard: “The New Spending Agreement Revives Abstinence Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Budget Deal Provides Money for NIH and Year-Round Pell.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What the Congressional Budget Deal Means for Higher Ed.”

    Via NPR: “Under Trump Budget, Nearly 2 Million Kids May Lose After-School Care.”

    Via The LA Times: “Trump is ending Michelle Obama’s ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative, CNN reports.”

    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy wins“best headline” this week: “ The Whole Grain Terror In School Lunches Is About To End.”

    Via ProPublica: “Trump Administration Hires Official Whom Five Students Accused of Sexual Assault.” That’d be Steven Munoz, formerly at The Citadel military college, who’s been hired as the assistant chief of visits for the State Department.

    A graphic essay in Fusion: “Betsy DeVos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation.”

    “Just months after a major gaffe by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the origins of historically black colleges and universities, a Florida HBCU is taking heat for inviting her to speak at its spring commencement ceremony next week,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The school in question: Bethune-Cookman University.

    Via Education Week: “Under Trump, Ed-Tech Leadership Is Big Question Mark.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The IRS data retrieval tool that let financial aid applicants automatically import income information into the FAFSA won’t be restored for the current aid cycle, said James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, in written testimony to Congress Wednesday.”

    The Department of Education has rehiredstudent loan debt collectors fired by the Obama Administration: Enterprise Recovery Systems and Navient-owned Pioneer Credit Recovery.

    Not ed-tech per se (unless you recognize that “personalized learning” is greyballing), but according to The New York Times, “Uber Faces Federal Inquiry Over Use of Greyball Tool to Evade Authorities.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Arizona lawmaker: Let’s end compulsory schooling and stop forcing education ‘down everybody's throat’.”

    Via “Arizona awards controversial loan guarantees to privately owned charter schools.”

    Via the Miami Herald: “Lawmakers set to defundMiami school that educated makers of ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Hamilton’.” Follow-up: “After outcry, lawmakers scrap plans to fully slash grant aid to ‘Moonlight’ alumni’s school.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Texas Governor Is Poised to Sign Immigration Bill, Raising Risks for Undocumented Students.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Politico: “Appeal could drag out Trump University settlement.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the former co-owner of an education consulting firm were sentenced Friday by a federal judge to prison terms in conjunction with a corruption scandal.”

    Via Politico: “A complex legal battle involving dozens of debt collection companies fighting over contracts with the Education Department has essentially suspended the government’s ability to collect defaulted student loans, the Trump administration disclosed in a court filing on Monday night.”

    Via Infodocket: “Louisiana State University is Suing Elsevier For Breach of Contract.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Marquette University was justified in disciplining a professor who had publicly rebuked a graduate teaching assistant over her handling of classroom discussions of homosexuality, a state judge ruled on Thursday.”

    And for those who claim that student protesters on college campuses are the gravest threat to free speech that this country faces… “A jury on Wednesday convicted three Code Pink activists on charges related to a protest at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions for attorney general – including a Virginia woman who said all she did was break out in laughter,” The New York Times reports.

    More court cases in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Via “UK student drops from ceiling to steal statistics exam.” UK here means University of Kentucky.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal authorities on Thursday announced the arrests of four Chinese nationals on charges of engaging in fraud on admissions tests that allowed three of them to obtain admissions to American universities and visas to study in the United States.” The test in question: the TOEFL.

    “Is there an elegant way to administer exams in online courses?” asks “Dean Dad” Matt Reed.

    “Free College”

    ‘Free’ College Programs Will Still Cost You,” says Nerdwallet.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    More on last week’sPurdue and Kaplan deal:

    Purdue’s deal for Kaplan U trades a long-term business relationship for low up-front costs while raising worries – especially among faculty groups – about blurred lines between public and private higher ed,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via the Journal & Courier: “Legislation that set the stage for Purdue's dive into online higher ed also exempts ‘New U’ from state’s open meetings, public records laws. That, Purdue says, was part of the deal.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “There’s a Reason the Purdue-Kaplan Deal Sounds Too Good to Be True.”

    I’m considered an “expert” here (among others) featured in IHE with thoughts and questions and analysis on the “Purdue-Kaplan marriage.”

    Via NPR: “A Public University Acquires A Big For-Profit, And Raises Big Questions.”

    “Mitch Daniels Wants to Sell the Soul of Public Education: Purdue Faculty Must Stop Him,” the Academe blog argues.

    Faculty members at Purdue University took a strong stance Thursday against last week’s unorthodox acquisition of Kaplan University, passing a University Senate resolution calling the deal a violation of common-sense educational practice and respect for Purdue faculty,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Elsewhere in for-profit-land:

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Thirty student, consumer and veterans’ groups called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday to seek public comment and impose conditions on the sale of several Education Management Corporation properties to a Los Angeles nonprofit.”

    DeVry is rebranding as Adtalem Global Education.

    An update from the FTC on its settlement with DeVry.

    Techcrunch profiles the coding bootcamp DevMountain.

    The New York Times Editorial Board urges“Keep For-Profit Schools on a Short Leash.”

    More research (and PR posing as research) on for-profits in the research section below. More on for-profits and accreditation in the accreditation section below. More on Trump University in the courts section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Brown UniversityjoinsedX.

    I missed this news earlier in April, via Class Central: financial aid applications for Coursera take at least 15 days.

    Y Combinator MOOC for Tech Startups Attracts Thousands of Views,” says Campus Technology. Not sure why this is called a MOOC. It’s just a bunch of video-taped lectures for the (offline) “Startup School” event that the startup incubator program runs at Stanford (which is really just a series of short talks by entrepreneurs and founders).

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The New York Times: “A Principal Is Accused of Being a Communist, Rattling a Brooklyn School.”

    Via the AP: “A one-day sweep in which over 150 high school students were suspended for dress code violations is bringing new criticism to a Connecticut district of predominantly Hispanic and black students that was already under scrutiny for having low numbers of minority teachers.”

    Via the AP: “AP Investigation Reveals Hidden Horror of Sex Assaults by K–12 Students.”

    Via Business Insider: “Surveillance videos show police officer allegedly abusing high school students.”

    One student was killed and three others wounded in a stabbing attack on the University of Texas Austin campus.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Glue-Gun Incident at Colgate Prompts Concern About Racial Profiling.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Noose Is Found on U. of Maryland at College Park’s Campus.” Police are investigating this as a hate-bias incident.

    Via The New York Times: “F.B.I. Helping American University Investigate Bananas Found Hanging From Nooses.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A Trump Supporter Allegedly Attacked Students At A Kentucky University With A Machete.” The attack was at Transylvania University.

    Via The Washington Post: “There’s a well-funded campus industry behind the Ann Coulter incident.”

    Via BBC Newsbeat: “Student mental health costs should be free, according to the Royal College of GPs.”

    The New York Times on“Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill.”

    Via KPCC: “Questions linger over closure of Whittier Law School.”

    From the MIT press release: “Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) to spark global renaissance in education through innovation at MIT.”

    Times Higher Education profilesAfrican Leadership University, a company that aims to build a transcontinental university in Africa (funded in part by the Omidyar Network).

    The Pacific Standard writes about “Creative Corrections Education Foundation, a non-profit that provides scholarships for college-bound young people aged 18 to 27 who have a parent in prison, on parole, or off parole.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on“The Christian Agenda Behind Inmate Education.”

    Via Feministing: “Why Yale’s Graduate Student Union Hunger Strike Matters.”

    Via The New York Times: “Most New York City Schools Had High Lead Levels, Retests Find.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration has backed its predecessor’s decision to terminate the recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a national accreditor that oversees 245 colleges, most of them for-profits.”

    Accreditation rules at Wayne State College in Nebraska are being criticized as a recent change requires “that professors teach only within their fields of expertise, as defined by their advanced degrees.” One professor, who’s taught philosophy for 50 years, will no longer be allowed to do so as her PhD is in English.

    Northwestern’s journalism school drops its accreditor, shortly after Berkeley did the same, echoing broader questions about the value of the process and whether it impedes innovation,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Accreditation is for Proles,” “Dean Dad” Matt Reed notes.

    Via CNN: Florida Memorial University will award Trayvon Martin a posthumous bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Cetys University is making a bid to become the first Mexican university to join the NCAA.

    Via The Washington Post: “She didn’t laugh at racist jokes. Her coach said she didn’t have the right ‘chemistry’ for the team.” The student was seeking a spot on the University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A state-court jury awarded $1.43 million in damages on Thursday to Jane Meyer, a former senior associate athletics director at the University of Iowa, ruling in her favor on all five claims in her discrimination lawsuit against the university.”

    From the HR Department

    Via Gizmodo: “Facebook Will Add 3,000 More People to Watch Murders and Suicides.” Nope, robots will not be doing this job of content moderation, as Facebook recently boasted at its developer conference. It’ll be low-wage workers in places like the Philippines.

    In other HR news from Facebook: “Facebook replaces Oculus computer vision head at center of underage sex scandal.”

    Graduate students at Brandeis University have voted to unionize.

    Ted Mitchell, the former Education Department under secretary, has joined the board of directors of Frontline Education,” Politico reports.

    The Business of Job Training

    Once upon a time, I’d have put Udacity in the MOOC section above, but I’m sticking this profile by RealClear Education here in the job training section: “Online Educator Udacity Adapts Courses to Changing Labor Market.”

    The Pew Research Center asked“experts” about “The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Is Clay Christensen Ready to Disrupt Parenting?” asks CMRubinworld. Will Christensen ever let this ridiculous narrative go?

    “Is this the future of college: Online classes, but no degree?” asks the Associated Press.

    “Zap! Can Electrical Stimulation Help Us Learn?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Is this increasingly popular teaching job the Uber for teachers?” asks eSchool News.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Yik Yak joins the ed-tech dead pool. (In an update to last week’s news, it appears that Square has paid $1 million for its engineering team. Yik Yak had raised $73.5 million in venture capital.)

    Microsoft had a media event this week. Via The New York Times: “Microsoft Looks to Regain Lost Ground in the Classroom.” “Microsoft’s new education push plays to its strengths, the cheap and familiar,” says Techcrunch. Here is the Microsoft blog post announcing its new products.

    CNN tries to explain “Why Google, Apple and Microsoft are battling for education.” I’ll save you a click: the answer is “money.”

    Via Edsurge: “Apple Partners With Tynker to Help K–5 Students Learn to Code.” (No disclosure about shared investors.)

    Via CNBC: “This Chinese-Israeli start-up wants to change the way kids learn to code.” The startup in question: LeapLearner.

    OER-Enabled Pedagogyby Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.

    Via Diggit Magazine: “The end of how business takes over, again.” Edsurge gets the company’s take on criticisms of its business model.

    Social-Emotional Learning Is the Rage in K–12. So Why Not in College?” asks the Student Experience Manager of the Minerva Project in an article in Edsurge.

    I wrote about social-emotional learning (algorithms) as a “trend to watch.”

    Elsewhere in algorithms… Via The New York Times: “Sent to Prison by a Software Program’s Secret Algorithms.” And in other predictive analytics news, from The Intercept: “Taser Will Use Police Body Camera Videos ‘to Anticipate Criminal Activity’.” (If you think these stories are not relevant to education and education technology, you are not paying attention.)

    Via The Outline: “Machine learning is racist because the internet is racist.”

    Edsurge on“How Students Experience Georgia State’s Push to Use Big Data” and an Ellucian product called Degree Works.

    Techcrunch lists 11 technologies that “want to hack your brain.”

    According to Futurism, “DARPA Is Planning to Hack the Human Brain to Let Us ‘Upload’ Skills.” Sigh. This story. Again.

    Brain data, neurotechnology and educationby Ben Williamson.

    Happy 20th anniversary to Blackboard. Edsurge celebrates by reprinting Blackboard founder Matthew Pittinsky’s blog post“4 Secrets to Building a Tech Company for Higher Ed.” Pittinsky is currently the CEO of Parchment. (No disclosure on this story that Parchment and Edsurge share investors.)

    Speaking of Blackboard, here’s a press release about Blackboard Classroom: “New Solution from Blackboard Helps K–12 School Districts Make Learning More Engaging, Personalized and Accessible.”

    Via Edsurge: “Why Moodle’s Mastermind, Martin Dougiamas, Still Believes in Edtech After Two Decades.”

    TRUSTe’s Opt Out Is a Cynical Joke,” says Bill Fitzgerald.

    Via Edsurge: “Zeal CEO John Danner: Want to Make Data Actionable? Start With Building the Right Culture.” (No disclosure that Edsurge shares an investor with Zeal.)

    Wolfram is launching a data repository.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    “How to Prepare for an Automated Future,” by The NYT’s Claire Cain Miller.

    For more news about robots not taking jobs, see the HR section above.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    AltSchool has raised $40 million from undisclosed investors. The private school startup has raised $173 million total. (Disclosure alert: Edsurge does not disclose it shares investors with AltSchool in its coverage of the funding news.)

    Game-based learning company Legends of Learning has raised $9 million in seed funding from Baltimore Angels.

    Schoolrunner has raised $500,000 from the Colorado Impact Fund. The student information system startup has raised $2 million total.

    The private equity firm Education Growth Partners has acquiredApex Learning.

    2U has acquiredGetSmarter for $103 million.

    Pearson released its quarterly report today and announced a “strategic review” of its K–12 courseware business, particularly with regards to print. Andrew Rotherham interviewed CEO John Fallon about the company’s shift to digital.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “Someone Hit the Internet with a Massive Google Doc Phishing Attack,” Motherboard Vice reports. Don’t click. Never click. (Use this as an excuse to avoid all future Google Docs and “collaborative” writing projects. You know you want to.)

    “Hundreds of thousands of kids have identity info hacked from pediatricians’ offices,” says

    “235 apps attempt to secretly track users with ultrasonic audio,” says Boing Boing. Android apps to be specific.

    “‘Is Our Children’s Apps Learning?’ Automatically Detecting COPPA Violationsby Irwin Reyes, Primal Wijesekera, Abbas Razaghpanah, Joel Rearson, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Serge Egelman, and Christian Kreibich.

    Data and “Research”

    This is irresponsible. “Students to colleges: Please use our data this way,” reads the eCampus News headline in an article claiming students want even more of their data tracked and utilized. This is all based on a survey by Ellucian (the company behind the student information system Banner and Degree Works, a predictive tool profiled by Edsurge in a story linked above); and I’d sure love to see the wording of the questions.

    Via The Independent: “Facebook research targeted insecure youth, leaked documents show.”

    “4 out of 5 Companies Have Hired a Coding Bootcamp Graduate,” says Campus Technology. Well, not quite. Job search site surveyed 1000 HR managers and tech recruiters.

    The latest report formerly known as the Sloan Survey of Online Learning has been released. “Digital Learning Compass: New report on distance education higher ed enrollments” by Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education also cover the report.

    “Do For-profit Institutions Converting to Non-profit Affect Distance Education Enrollment Numbers?” asks Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. (Spoiler alert: no.)

    The ANOVA blog’s“study of the week” includes Skinner (but no pigeons): “Nicaraguan Sign Language and the Speaking Animal.”

    Via Brookings: “How the quality of school lunch affects students’ academic performance.” has released new reports on math textbooks and how well they align to the Common Core.

    “Emerging Research on K–12 Computer Science Education: 6 Trends to Watch” by Education Week’s Ben Herold.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new paper finds students don’t leave postsecondary education when the for-profit institution they attend is sanctioned by federal agencies. They move into the public sector.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Study: More Underrepresented Students Rely on Social Media for College Search.”

    “The Most Polarized Freshman Class in Half a Century” sure makes for a great headline confirming all the hullaballoo lately about intolerance on college campuses. (Incoming classes are also increasingly diverse demographically.)

    Via Pacific Standard: “Selective Colleges Take Fewer Low-Income Students, According to a New Report.”

    From the American Institutes for Research: “The Income Share Agreement Landscape: 2017 and Beyond.”

    More pushback on the US News and World Report 2017 high school rankings. “4th Best High School In New York Is A KIPP School That Doesn’t Exist,” education blogger Gary Rubinstein charges. “Why the U.S. News Best High School Rankings Are Flawed,” according to RealClear Education.

    Creative Commons has released its State of the Commons 2016 report.

    IHE blogger Joshua Kim asks where folks get the figure “$1.9 trillion,” supposedly the size of the global higher education market.

    EdWeek’s Market Brief pushes another number about the size of education markets: “As more computing devices are available in K–12 classrooms, the market for ed-tech software and tools and back-end administrative technology platforms, is expected to grow to $1.83 billion by 2020, according to Futuresource Consulting, Ltd.”

    April 2017 Ed-Tech Fundingby me. One factoid: three companies – SoFi, EverFi, and– account for more than 65% of the money raised so far this year. Unlike other people who tout certain dollar figures for the size of markets, I do show my work.


    Via Vox: “William Baumol, whose famous economic theory explains the modern world, has died.” Vox loves explainers but, like Baumol, doesn't always get the explanation right:

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/12/17--16:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via Politico: “Trump suggests financing for historically black colleges may be unconstitutional.” Wait, so that photo op at the beginning of the year with HBCU presidents was utterly disingenuous?! More via Buzzfeed– that is, before Trump changed his mind – or at least changed his public stance, and according to WaPo, expressed his “unwavering support” for HBCUs. Via The NYT: “Trump Walks Back Threat to Defund Black Colleges.”

    And then DeVos goes to an HBCU to give a graduation speech and get an honorary doctorate. “Betsy DeVos Was Booed Heavily As She Gave A Commencement Address,” writes Buzzfeed. “Students Boo, Turn Their Backs on DeVos at Bethune-Cookman Speech,” writes The Chronicle of Higher Education. NPR calls the students “hecklers.” According to the school, only 20 students protested. (According to those present, about half of the graduates did.) The Secretary of Education issued a statement about the ceremony. All the words were spelled correctly.

    DeVos also spoke at the ASU-GSV Summit. No one stood and turned their backs, I gather. “Betsy DeVos likens education technology to ‘a thousand flowers’ that have yet to bloom,” says The Hechinger Report. Innovation! Education should be more like AirBnB. And no one booed. Damn, y’all.

    Via Politico: “All the President’s Guests.” The White House isn’t releasing official visitor logs, so here’s the unofficial version. Search for “education” to see who’s popped by for a chat.

    Via Motherboard: “John Oliver Just Crashed the FCC’s Website Over Net Neutrality – Again.” Yes, it’s time to weigh in – again – about “net neutrality.”

    Not directly related to ed-tech, but only because no one actually demands ed-tech prove its “interventions” “work”: “Peter Thiel vs. the FDAvia Vox.

    Via ABC News: “Puerto Rico to close 184 public schools amid crisis.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “No Love for Paul Ryan in Harlem School.” The school in question: Success Academy, a charter school chain.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Jerry Brown, California’s governor, released his revised budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday. While the budget largely mirrors an earlier plan, it includes $50 million in funding for the University of California system that will be sequestered until the system resolves concerns raised last month by the state’s auditor.”

    Ian Bogost on campus carry legislation in Georgia.

    Via The New York Times: “Is ‘3-K for All’ Good for All? De Blasio’s Preschool Plan Troubles Some.”

    Via “Christie signs ‘Snooki’ bill capping N.J. college speaking fees.”

    Via The LA Times: “Silicon Valley is ‘officially a retirement community for D.C. political vets’ starting fresh outside the nation’s capital.”

    Meanwhile in San Francisco, via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Low pay, high SF housing costs equal 1 homeless math teacher.”

    More on the politics of education data and research in the data and research section below. More on the politics (and business) of student loans in the student loans section below.

    Immigration and Education

    Via NPR: “Texas Gov. Abbott Signs Measure Targeting ‘Sanctuary Cities’.” The law, which allows officers to stop and ask people’s immigration status, also applies to college campuses.

    Via The Washington Post: “Second largest school district in U.S. moves to protect undocumented immigrants from federal agents.” That’s LAUSD. (That’s the Los Angeles Unified School District.)

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. May Ban Laptops on All Flights From Europe.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Buzzfeed: “Howard University Refused To Help Suicidal Rape Victims, Explosive Lawsuit Claims.”

    Just putting this story here because I’m tracking on all those social and political networks of education reform and education technology funders. And that includes Robert Mercer. Via Bloomberg: “Mercer Sued by Hedge Fund Worker Fired After Blasting Trump.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Thomas Friedman links the future of “lifelong learning” to standardized testing, bless his heart. Warning: hate read.

    “A History of Achievement Testing in the United States Or: Explaining the Persistence of Inadequacy” (PDF) by Ethan Hutt and Jack Schneider.

    More on testing and test prep research in the “research” section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Purdue Defends Plan to Acquire Kaplan University in Wake of Faculty Vote.”

    Via WTVR: “For-profit colleges under scrutiny as students default on loans.”

    Lots lots lots more on student loans in the student loan section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    edX is celebrating its 5th birthday. (And I can’t believe that “the Year of the MOOC” was five years ago.)

    A Coursera blog post shared with you without commentary: “Using data to transform the learning experience.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    The conservative press continues to argue that college campuses remain the biggest threat to free speech. Here’s the NRO: “U of Arizona Is Hiring Students to Tattle on Others for ‘Bias Incidents’.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “To fight campus liberalism, a right-wing group is funneling thousands of dollars to student-government campaigns.” That’s Turning Point USA.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “8 Fraternity Members Are Charged With Manslaughter in Hazing Death at Penn State.”

    Madison, WI schools block social media access for students,” says EAGNews, “as part of a pilot project aimed at reengaging students.”

    Harvard will no longer charge library fines. Apparently library fines are stressful to those poor Harvard students.

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City’s special ed tracking system malfunctioned more than 800,000 times per day, but changes are underway.”

    Via the NY Daily News: “99% of students handcuffed by NYPD in public schools were black or Hispanic: report.”

    “An administrator at Holy Cross College, in Indiana, mistakenly sent an email to the entire student body on Friday that paints a bleak picture of the small institution’s finances and mentions its possible closure,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Oops.

    Via Teen Vogue: “Nicki Minaj Offers to Pay Fans’ School Tuition.” (Nicki needs to talk to Tressie.)

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than 100 elite private high schools aim to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based, nonstandardized documents – with no grades. They plan to expand to public high schools, with goal of completely changing how students are evaluated.” This is one way to expand educational inequalities, that’s for sure.

    AIR on alternative teacher certification.

    Education Dive summarizes a Washington Times (!) article by the Heritage Foundation (!) and asks “Should states, industry lead higher ed accreditation efforts?” Pretty sure all those factors and more means this really should go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A report released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Wednesday said that athletes in Division I improved academically for the 12th consecutive year, according to the association’s academic progress rate.”

    From the HR Department

    Internet2 has a new president: Howard Pfeffer, formerly a VP at Time Warner Cable.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Can technology solve the 2,500-year-old problem of boredom in the classroom?” asks Slate.

    “Dropout Detective Offers Academic ‘Credit Scores’– But Is That a Good Thing?” asks Edsurge.

    “Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal?” asks The 74.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Education Week: “Can K–12 Education Prepare Students For ‘Jobs of the Future?’” Yes, this could go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via NPR: “U.S. Government Officials Play Hardball On Student Loan Defaults.”

    The US Department of Treasury is poised to raise the interest rates on student loans in July.

    Via Buzzfeed: “How The Student Loan Collection System Ground To A Halt.”

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi plans to apply for a bank charter in the next month.” SoFi began as financing company for private student loans. It is most certainly not ed-tech because ed-tech has nothing to do with finance, or so I hear.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Sallie Mae, the student loan company, will offer free online tutoring to borrowers through a partnership with Chegg, an online textbook publisher that recently has moved into student support services, including test preparation and tutoring.”

    “The Wrong Way to Fix Student Debtby Susan Dynarski.

    Also in The NYT: “3 Basic but Crucial Things to Know About Student Loans.” (Me, I think you should know the business of student loans is intertwined with the business of ed-tech.)

    More on student loans in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us,” says The NYT’s tech reporter Farhad Manjoo. That’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple. (Check out the interactive feature that let’s you explore if and how you could extricate yourself from their clutches.)

    Meanwhile, Education Week has a big report on “Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft Battle for K–12 Market, and Loyalties of Educators.”

    Via Edsurge: “ClassDojo and Yale Team Up to Bring Mindfulness to the Masses.” Ben Williamson on ClassDojo and “mindfulness at scale.”

    “We Know SEL Skills Are Important, So How the Heck Do We Measure Them?” asks Edsurge. It’s totally by buying ed-tech, am I right?

    Efficiency Can Cost Education” says Andy Smarick in US News & World Report.

    JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon says there’s a “national catastrophe in American education,” and he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about.

    “The reign of the $100 graphing calculator required by every US math class is finally ending,” says Quartz. That’s thanks to Desmos, the online graphing calculator. More Desmos PR in Edsurge, too.

    Via NPR: “Fidget Spinners: Good Or Bad For Kids’ Concentration?”

    Via Techcrunch: “Germany’s Duolingo competitor Babbel sets its sights on the US.”

    Oculus’ Virtual Reality Content Studio to Be Closed,” says Geek Dad. But don’t worry. I’m sure VR is still the next big thing in edu.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Common Application Says New Transfer App Will Better Serve Nontraditional Students.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Current launches a Visa debit card for kids that parents control with an app.”

    “Movement of Canvas LMS to Global Markets” by Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    “The Next Phase of the Maker Movement? Building Startups” – according to Edsurge at least.

    Do be sure to take note of the Edmodo news in the infosec section below.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via KQED: “Using Artificial Intelligence As a Teaching Assistant To Help With Questions Online.” Georgia Tech trying to get a lot of miles out of this one example, huh.

    Via Edsurge: “Robot Students? College Classrooms Try Letting Far-Away Students Attend Via Remote-Control Stand-In.”

    “Could Robots Handle Peer Review?” asks Times Higher Education, a question that does make this story eligible for the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    Machine Learning for Middle Schoolers” by Stephen Wolfram.

    ASU-GSV Summit Celebrates Money and Other Stuff

    Some of the headlines out of this corporate shindig:

    Via Edsurge: “Bankers, Buyers and Warriors: Reporter’s Notebook From the 2017 ASU+GSV Summit.” (Warriors, in this case, refers to the Golden State Warriors, who were staying in the same hotel – but it could be ed-tech warriors, I dunno maybe. God helps us.)

    Via Education Week: “An Uncertain Political Landscape Looms Over Ed. Policy at ASU/GSV.”

    As part of its “thought leader series” at the event, Edsurge interviewed the founder of the Minerva Project, Ben Nelson: “Three Years In, Minerva’s Founder On For-Profits, Selectivity, and His Critics.”

    Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “K–12 Frustrations With Ed-Tech Interoperability Surface at ASU/GSV.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Tennis Great Andre Agassi Shares Strategies for Scaling Charter Schools at ASU/GSV.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Chinese Ed-Tech Leaders: ‘Make Connections to Make Headway’ in Market.”

    See the politics section above for details about the Secretary of Education’s speech at the event. And do note the differences in the audience response to DeVos there and at an HBCU graduation ceremony this week.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is funding the education-reform group Chiefs for Change, as both groups seek to grow state- and district-level support for personalized learning,” Education Week reports. No disclosure on the funding amount.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Grammarly has raised $110 million from Breyer Capital Venture, General Catalyst Venture, Institutional Venture Partners, SignalFire Venture, and Spark Capital. This is the grammar-checker company’s first round of venture investment.

    Telegraph Media Group has acquiredGojimo.

    Epiphany Learning has acquiredMy Learning Collaborative Solution.

    Sylvan Learning has acquiredCitelighter.

    InsideTrack has merged with Strada Education.

    Via Crunchbase: “VCs Take An EdTech Breather, But For Those Who Look Globally, Optimism Isn’t Hard To Find.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Motherboard: “Hacker Steals Millions of User Account Details from Education Platform Edmodo.” The data includes usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. The data is for sale online for $1000.

    Via the Fort Mason Daily Democrat: “Heart rate monitor grades students’ activity.”

    College campus police forces are starting to wear body cameras.

    Via “San Diego School District Brings Biometrics to the Cafeteria.”

    “The ‘S’ in Smart Cities really stands for ‘Surveillance’,” Doug Belshaw argues.

    More on algorithms and surveillance in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section above.

    Data and “Research”

    Research from Harvard on “The Dissatisfaction of the Associate Professor,” as related by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Kansas University: “Research shows prejudice, not principle, often underpins ‘free-speech defense’ of racist language.”

    Via Education Week: “The federal Health and Human Services Department has proposed getting rid of a question in the National Child Health Survey that collects information on preschool children who have been suspended or expelled.”

    “Three-quarters of Americans think it’s easier to succeed in life with a college degree than without one, but only 43 percent say private, nonprofit universities and colleges are worth the cost, according to a new poll” by the think tank New America.

    School Bullying Is Down. Why Don’t Students Believe It?” asks NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges With the Highest Average Pay for Full Professors, 2015–16.”

    Via Education Week: “Student Absenteeism: Three New Studies to Know.”

    Edsurge weighs in with “The Hard Truths and False Starts About Edtech Efficacy Research.”

    From the Khan Academy blog: “Studying for the SAT for 20 hours on Khan Academy associated with 115-point average score increase.” “ Can coaching truly boost SAT scores? For years, the College Board said no. Now it says yes,” says WaPo’s Valerie Strauss.

    A new study from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation suggests that robots aren’t taking our jobs as fast as some people are saying. But this all makes for such a nice, salable story, doesn’t it.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/19/17--07:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice.”

    NPR’s Cory Turner on“The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers.” Also by Turner: “Indiana’s School Choice Program Often Underserves Special Needs Students.”

    Also via WaPo: “Here are K–12 education programs Trump wants to eliminate in 2018 budget.” This includes $10.1 million for Special Olympics because these are some cruel, cruel people.

    Via Politico: “DeVos expected to unveil school choice plans Monday.”

    “This is the new Betsy DeVos speech everyone should read,” according to WaPo’s Valerie Strauss at least. Bonus points for invoking the Prussians, Madame Secretary.

    “Why I Turned My Back on Betsy DeVos During Graduation” by Bethune-Cookman Class of 2017’s Tyler Durrant.

    Via The Washington Post: “Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no.”

    Via Politico: “DeVos’ designated ethics official found no conflict with her addressing the American Federation for Children in her official capacity, a spokesman said Monday. DeVos is the former chair of the American Federation for Children, which advocates for school choice policies, such as tax credit scholarships and vouchers. She and her husband also donated $200,000 to AFC’s charitable arm in 2014 and 2015 through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. DeVos stepped down as AFC chair last year after President Donald Trump nominated her for secretary.”

    President Trump gave the commencement speech at Liberty University. Details via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump and DeVos plan to reshape higher education finance. Here’s what it might mean for you.”

    I’ve put all the student loan updates in its own section below.

    “The Privatization Prophets” by Jennifer Berkshire.

    Los Angeles Just Had the Most Expensive School Board Race Ever – and Betsy DeVos Couldn’t Be Happier,” says Mother Jones. Charter school-backed Nick Melvoin unseated school board president Steve Zimmer. More than $14 million was spent on this race.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan group of influential U.S. senators released a bill Monday that would overturn the ban on a federal student-level data system that would allow for the tracking of employment and graduation rates. A bipartisan companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives followed Tuesday.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Hill: “FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal.” More via Education Week. (Here are the education technology companies that have raised money from ISPs. Watch to see what they have to say (if anything) about net neutrality and the future of education.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The States Where Campus Free-Speech Bills Are Being Born: A Rundown.” A related story via Inside Higher Ed: “Critics of proposed legislation to ensure First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it could backfire and limit expression. Requirement for political neutrality alarms professors and administrators alike.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery.”

    Via The News & Observer: “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts.”

    The New York Times looks at “anti-tax fervor in southern Oregon, which will result in the one public library in Roseburg closing its doors.

    ProPublica looks at the lobbying group the Home School Legal Defense Association: “Small Group Goes to Great Lengths to Block Homeschooling Regulation.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Gothamist: “Federal Immigration Agent Allegedly Inquired About 4th Grader At Queens Public School.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students at Northwestern University drove out a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was due to speak to a sociology class Tuesday.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “4 Plead Guilty in Baruch College Student’s Hazing Death.”

    Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen,” says TorrentFreak.

    More legal stories in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The Post and Courier: “Citadel cadets score low on a critical-thinking exam. But there’s reason to be skeptical about their results.” That’s the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam (a.k.a. CLA+).

    Via Vox: “Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.”

    Via NPR: “AP Test-Takers’ Tweets May Not Give Away Answers, But They Raise Questions.”

    More on venture philanthropy and test prep in the venture philanthropy section below.

    “Free College”

    “Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?” asks The New York Times Magazine.

    Via The New York Times: “Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Boston-area nonprofit will pay gang members who want to go to college and get off the street, with a goal of improving communities.” The non-profit in question: College Bound Dorchester.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Slate: “Betsy DeVos Wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program.”

    “400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking,” says CNN.

    Here’s Betsy DeVos in The Wall Street Journal: “Treating Students as Customers.” “How the Education Department is revamping its loan-serving program.”

    Reminder: Betsy DeVos has a financial stake in a student loan collection agency.

    Via NPR: “Can’t Pay Your Student Loans? The Government May Come After Your House.”

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi gets into wealth management.” That’s a private student loan provider, but I forgot that everyone in ed-tech thinks this whole private student loan thing isn’t something we should be watching because it’s not really ed-tech.

    Via the Huffington Post: “Nicki Minaj Is Starting An ‘Official Charity’ To Pay Off Student Loans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Edsurge: “Why Donald Graham Sold Kaplan University to Purdue for $1.” (And there’s even a disclosure about Edsurge’s financial ties to Graham on this story. Good job, team.)

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. Crackdown on For-Profit Schools Is Said to Go Idle.”

    Also via The New York Times: “For-Profit Charlotte Law School Is Subject of North Carolina Inquiry.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    “Why Haven’t MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?” asks IHE blogger Joshua Kim. What’s his evidence that technology has not eliminated jobs – other than this weird insistence that there is no such thing as neoliberalism in ed-tech?

    Via The Verge: “Who is MasterClass for? Talking to the people who take online classes with big-name celebs.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension.” That’s Christian Ott, an astrophysics professor, who has been accused of harassing his graduate students.

    Via NPR: “As White Supremacists Push Onto Campuses, Schools Wrestle With Response.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Where Kids Aren’t Allowed to Put on Sunscreen: in School.”

    Zynga and USC enter social and mobile game design partnership,” says Education Dive. I’d totally forgotten that Zynga was still a thing, but apparently the company has enough money to subsidize gaming courses.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: Mills College“announces layoffs (likely including tenured professors) and plans for curricular reform – amid a deficit that has grown to $9 million.”

    Via The New York Times: “500 Students in a One-Room School: Fallout of New Jersey’s Funding Woes.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bipartisan support for career and technical education is building, with Virginia Foxx and the Center for American Progress finding rare agreement Tuesday by calling for more of a policy focus on job training that doesn’t require a four-year degree.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the Kansas City Star: “Lawsuit says Baylor football players videotaped gang rape, which was ‘bonding experience’.” This is the seventh lawsuit over the school’s sexual assault scandal.

    Reminder that Baylor’s former athletic director now works at Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University.

    Speaking of Liberty U, via Deadspin: “Liberty Was So Desperate For An FBS Home Opener, It Agreed To Pay Old Dominion $1.32 Million.”

    From the HR Department

    The open-access publisher PLOS has a new CEO: Alison Mudditt.

    Social Capital has hired Marc Mezvinsky as the investment firm morphs its business,” Recode reports. Yes, that’s the Marc Mezvinsky who’s married to Chelsea Clinton. (Here’s a look at Social Capital’s ed-tech portfolio.)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Can a buzzword deliver on its promise?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn. (He’s referring to “personalized learning,” but might as well be any buzzword when you frame the headline that way, bud.)

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via The New York Times: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.” There’s a lot in this superb article – data, surveillance, testing, costs, branding.

    Via Edsurge: “Pearson, an Investor in Knewton, Is ‘Phasing Out’ Partnership on Adaptive Products.” No disclosure in the story that Edsurge shares investors with Knewton, nor that Pearson is, by way of Learn Capital, also an investor in Edsurge.

    Via Quartz: “Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare.”

    Via the BBC: “Computer giant Apple is expanding its supply line of talented young people with digital skills, by doubling the intake of its European academy.” I’m guessing those “talented young people” don’t need daycare at work, Apple?

    What the conservative ed-reform publication Education Next is watching: “Silicon Valley Billionaires Created AltSchool.”

    Edsurge interviews Stanford’s Candace Thille on “Why ‘Black Box’ Software Isn’t Ready to Teach College.”

    Edsurge profiles MEDSKL, which is like Khan Academy but for medical school. (What could go wrong?)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online Exam Proctoring Catches Cheaters, Raises Concerns.” Concerns include privacy, racism.

    Edsurge writes that “U of Chicago, UPenn, Harvey Mudd Among Colleges to Join Scholarship App” but does not disclose that it shares investors with the company in question.

    “​Intel Hits Pause on Edtech Accelerator,” says Edsurge.

    “The Sexual Harassment Allegations Against This Virtual Reality Startup Are Really Gross,” writes Buzzfeed. That’s UploadVR. (Here’s a look, from Edsurge, at the company’s involvement in education, so that’s just swell.)

    Via Campus Technology: “6 VR Trends to Watch in Education.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via The Verge: “Elon Musk-backed OpenAI is teaching robots how to learn just like humans do.” Just like humans do. LOL.

    “This robot helps kids with special needs to communicate,” according to Techcrunch. This robot is called Robota and is the creation of a team from Rutgers University.

    From the WCET blog: “Using Artificial Intelligence for Personality Insights.”

    Via Education Week: “In Kentucky, Rural Schools Betting on Drones to Stem ‘Brain Drain’.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving a grant– an undisclosed amount – to the College Board to expand test prep.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from GSV Acceleration, Creative Arts Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. The online training company has raised $76 million total. (Disclosure alert.)

    Revolution Prep has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Kennet Partners. The test prep company has raised $9 million total.

    Marbotic has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Mirabelle investment fund, Marguerite Fournié, and Michelin Development. The company makes wooden blocks that interact with a tablet.

    Tutoring startup Byju’s will buy part of Pearson’s tutoring company TutorVista, according to The Economic Times.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    On the heels of news last week that Edmodo had been hacked and some 77 million users’ data leaked, privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald uncovers targeted ad tracking in Edmodo. (The tracking has since been removed. But this isn’t the first time Edmodo’s had security issues, incidentally.) Edsurge writes that “Edmodo’s Tracking of Students and Teachers Revives Skepticism Surrounding ‘Free’ Edtech Tools” but does not disclose that it shares investors with Edmodo.

    Via Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill: “Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System.” This includes more than 500 pieces of information that Uber tracks for each user. Helpful for putting all those “Uber for education” folks in context.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wisconsin at Madison Restores Twitter Account After Hack.”

    A cyberattack spread globally this week – WannaCry, ransomware that encrypts all files on a computer until the user pays (Bitcoin) to unlock them. “Colleges Dodge Massive Cyberattack,” according to Inside Higher Ed. “US universities race to contain WannaCry ransomware, officials say,” according to Cyberscoop. Other schools affected: the Brewer school system in Maine. Here’s Microsoft’s statement, which points the finger at the NSA. I’m sorry for citing the Daily Mail but I can’t help it here: “Cyber geek who halted global computer attack was suspended by teachers after being accused of hacking school’s system (…and failed his GCSE in IT!)”

    The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has released a “Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy.”

    Data and “Research”

    “Don’t Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm,” says Cathy O’Neil.

    From FdB’s ANOVA blog: “Campbell’s Law and the inevitability of school fraud.” Also: “norm referencing, criterion referencing, and ed policy.” And: “Study of the Week: What Actually Helps Poor Students? Human Beings.”

    Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” says the Pew Research Center.

    Via Mindwires Consulting: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Spring 2017 Edition.”

    The latest survey from Project Tomorrow: “Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. is not adequately developing and sustaining a skilled technical work force, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “Study examines traits British students like– and don’t like – in instructors.”

    “The average first-time, full-time tuition discount rate edged even closer to 50 percent in 2016–17 as net tuition revenue and enrollment struggled.” That’s according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

    Big Data in Education” – a new report from the National Academy of Education.

    Predictive Analytics in Higher Education: Five Guiding Practices for Ethical Use” – a new report from New America.

    Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ,” says Vox.

    Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse,” says the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

    “Sorry, Graphology Isn’t a Real Science,” says Anne Trubek.

    Via NPR: “Whirring, Purring Fidget Spinners Provide Entertainment, Not ADHD Help.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This talk was given today at CENTRO's symposium "Data, Paper, Scissors Tech-Based Learning Experiences for Higher Education" in Mexico City.

    Thank you very much for inviting me here today. I must apologize in advance for a couple of things about this presentation. First, I apologize that it’s in English. Second, I apologize that it takes such a grim tone. I’m well known, I think, for fierce criticisms and cautions about education technology, and what I’ve prepared today is perhaps even darker and more polemical than I’d like, strikingly so on this beautiful campus. I confess: I am feeling incredibly concerned about the direction the world is taking – politically, environmentally, economically, intellectually, institutionally, technologically. Trump. Digital technologies, even education technologies, are implicated in all of this, and if we are not careful, we are going to make things worse.

    History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminals.

    "I attest to this: the world is not white; it never was white, cannot be white. White is a metaphor for power, and that is simply a way of describing Chase Manhattan Bank."– James Baldwin

    I want to be sure that anytime we talk about “the future of education,” that we always consider “the history of education.” We cannot break from history. We have not severed ourselves from the past through the introduction of computers or computer networks. Our institutions have not been severed from the past because of these. Our cultures have not. (At least not entirely. Not yet.) We have not.

    When we talk about “the future of education” as an explicitly technological future, I want us to remember that “the history of education” has long been technological – thousands of years of writing, hundreds of years of print, a century of “teaching machines,” 75 years of computing, almost 60 years of computer-assisted instruction, at least 40 years of the learning management system, more than 25 years of one-to-one laptop programs, a decade (give or take a year) of mobile learning. Education technology is not new; it has not appeared “all of a sudden”; and it is not a rupture. It is inextricably linked to history, to histories of education and to histories of technology.

    Education technology has its roots in traditional institutions, including and particularly the university and the military.

    To be clear, when I talk about education technology or technologies, I am not referring simply to tools or artifacts or products; and technologies certainly aren’t simply computing devices – software or hardware. Technologies, to borrow from the physicist Ursula Franklin, are practices. Technologies are systems. Technology “entails far more than its individual material components,” Franklin wrote. “Technology involves organizations, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.”

    When I say that education technology is not new, I’m not arguing that technologies do not change over time; or that our institutions, ideas, experiences, societies do not change in part because of technologies. But when we talk about change – when we tell stories about technological change – we must consider how technologies, particularly modern technologies like computers, emerged from a certain history, from certain institutions; how technologies are as likely to re-inscribe traditional practices as to alter them. We must consider how technology operates, in Franklin’s words, as “an agent of power and control.” We must consider how technologies carry this in their design, in their code, in their materiality, in their usage, in the ideologies that underpin them. Because of industry and because of institutions and because of capitalism and because of the weight of history and tradition, technologies are often hegemonic, even if, from time-to-time, we can seize them for counter-hegemonic stories and practices.

    All this is particularly important, I would argue, when we think about the technologies – practices, beliefs, systems – that are developed by or developed for educational institutions, when we think about education technologies and when we think about educational change.

    There are compelling stories, no doubt, about education technology. We’ll hear them today. Old stories and new stories. Education technology as disruptive. Education technology as transformative. Education technology as progressive (“progressive” as in progressive education like that envisioned by Maria Montessori or John Dewey; or “progressive” as related to social reform movements; or “progressive” as relating to technological progress). In the twenty-first century (as it has been for some time now) we are quite taken with the notion of technology as the force for “progress,” for change. But let’s not confuse new products and new practices and new politics with better.

    If technology is the force for change, in this framework, those who do not use technology, of course – schools and teachers, stereotypically – are viewed as resistant to or even obstacles to change.

    Seymour Papert, an early promoter of the narrative that personal computers would transform learning, wrote in 1993 that he’d already seen the ways in which educational institutions had dulled computers’ radical potential. “Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away,” he wrote in his book The Children’s Machine.

    Instead of cutting across and so challenging the very idea of subject boundaries, the computer now defined a new subject; instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.

    It’s been almost 25 years since Papert wrote that book, and we can debate whether or not computers have actually failed to change educational institutions. (Certainly the title of this segment of today’s event – “the new normal” – seems to conclude that something in School’s ways, to borrow Papert’s phrase, has shifted.) We can debate too whether or not computers were ever really a “subversive instrument of change” in education. Or rather, what exactly do computers subvert? (Institutions? People? The public?)

    And this is the question, I think, that feels incredibly pertinent for us to consider, particularly as the education technology industry boasts about its disruptive capabilities and exerts its financial, political, and cultural power. What might be subverted? What might be lost? (That is, who will lose?)

    When I hear the phrase “the new normal,” I cannot help but think of the ways in which those same words were used in the US to describe the economy during and since the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and subsequent global recession. A period of slow economic growth, limited job creation, and stagnant incomes. A period of economic instability for most of us, and one of growing economic inequality globally as the super wealthy got super wealthier.

    That period was also one of enormous growth in new digital technology companies. Facebook and Twitter grew in popularity as social networks emerged to profoundly reconfigure information and media. Netflix moved from DVDs to a streaming service to a media company in its own right. Amazon introduced “The Cloud.” Apple introduced the iPhone, and “apps” became ubiquitous, leading some to pronounce the World Wide Web – a scholarly endeavor at its origin, let’s not forget – was dead. Venture capitalists became exuberant once again about investing in high tech startups, even those in education, which had for the previous decade been seen as a difficult and unprofitable market. Another Dot Com boom was predicted, this one centered on personal data.

    But the growth of Silicon Valley didn’t really do much to improve the economic well-being of most of us. It didn’t really create jobs, although it did create wealth for a handful of investors and entrepreneurs. It did help further a narrative that our economic precarity was not only “the new normal” but potentially liberatory. The “freelance” economy, we were told, meant we didn’t have to have full-time employment any longer. Just “gigs.” The anti-regulatory practices and libertarian ideology espoused by the CEO of Uber became a model for talking about this “new economy” – that is until Uber (and others) are able to replace freelance workers with robots, of course. “We’re like Uber,” became something other companies, including those in education, would boast, despite Uber’s skullduggery.

    This “new normal” does not simply argue that governmental regulations impede innovation. It posits government itself as an obstacle to change. It embraces libertarianism; it embraces “free markets.” It embraces a neoliberalism that calls for shrinking budgets for public services, including education – a shifting of dollars to private industry.

    Education needs to change, we have long been told. It is outmoded. Inefficient. And this “new normal” – in an economic sense much more than a pedagogical one – has meant schools have been tasked to “do more with less” and specifically to do more with new technologies which promise greater efficiency, carrying with them the values of business and markets rather than the values of democracy or democratic education.

    These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism. In education technology, as in advertising, this is labeled “personalization.” The flaw of traditional education systems, we are told, is that they focus too much on the group, the class, the collective. So we see education being reframed as a technologically-enhanced series of choices – consumer choices. Technologies monitor and extract data in order to maximize “engagement” and entertainment.

    I fear that new normal, what it might really mean for teaching, for learning, for scholarship.

    Seymour Papert argued that “School’s ways” would persist, despite the subversiveness of computers, but I’m not so sure. Or rather, I’d argue that we do see a subversiveness from computers – let’s call it an Uberification – but it looks nothing like what he had hoped for. If School’s ways have been altered, it’s because of the political and fiscal pressures on them. I’d argue new technologies are prompting schools to acquiesce to, to merge with “Silicon Valley’s ways,” with surveillance capitalism, for example.

    Technologies may well be poised to redefine how we think about learning, intelligence, inquiry, the learner, the teacher, teaching, knowledge, scholarship. But remember: technological “progress” does not necessarily mean “progressive politics.” Silicon Valley’s ways also include individualism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, imperialism, the exclusion of people of color and white women from its workforce. These biases are now part of algorithms and algorithmic decision-making.

    Again my fear with our being comfortable or complacent with this “new normal”: Silicon Valley’s ways and Silicon Valley’s technologies are readily subverting the values of democracy and justice.

    The values of democracy and justice should be School’s ways. But to be fair, neither democracy nor justice are values that most educational institutions (historically, presently) have truly or fully or consistently lauded or oriented themselves around.

    If we want the future to be something other than an exploitative dystopia, I think our task must be to resist the narratives and the practices and the technologies that further inequality.

    We cannot do this through through technological solutionism (although technologies are absolutely part of what we need to address and fundamentally rethink). We need to rethink our practices. We have to forgo “personalization.” We must do this through collective action, through community. We do this through action oriented around social and racial justice. We do this through democracy. (And through art.)

    If educational institutions cannot take leadership in this crisis – a crisis of “the new normal” – then I don’t think we have any hope at all. My hope right now rests in the leadership of those outside Silicon Valley, indeed outside the US.

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  • 05/26/17--05:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • The Trump Budget

    Via The New York Times: “Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts.”

    Via NPR: “Trump BudgetReduces Education Spending, Raises Funding For School Choice.” Also via NPR: “President Trump’s Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trump Budget Would Slash Student Aid and Research.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget Would Mean for Higher Ed.”

    Via Edweek’s Market Brief: “Trump’s Budget for Fiscal 2018: Cuts for Ed., Implications for K–12 Business.”

    No Sign of Edtech In Department of Education’s Full Federal Budget Proposal,” Edsurge frets.

    The Office of Educational Technology Under DeVos” by Doug Levin.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities issued a press release: “NEH Statement on Proposed FY 2018 Budget.”

    More news from the NEH in the HR section below.

    Thankfully, this budget is D.O.A. But it does underscore how central cruelty and ignorance are to the Trump administration.

    More Education Politics

    Betsy DeVos Refuses to Rule Out Giving Funds to Schools That Discriminate,” The New York Times reports.

    Via NPR: “Here’s What Betsy DeVos Said Wednesday On Capitol Hill.”

    And here’s what DeVos said when she spoke to the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit. I really like the part where she compares those who defend the current education system to “flat-earthers.”

    “GOP lawmakers said Thursday they had planned to subpoena the former chief of federal student aid, Jim Runcie, to testify before a House of Representatives oversight subcommittee and may still do so,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Runcie resigned from the Department of Education effective Wednesday rather than testify at a hearing on improper payments by the department. In a resignation memo and other correspondence leaked to the media, he also cited broader disagreements with the direction of the department under Secretary Betsy DeVos as reasons for his departure.” More on James Runcie’s abrupt resignation from The Washington Post, NPR, Buzzfeed.

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Administration Considers Moving Student Loans from Education Department to Treasury.”

    More on student loans in the student loan section below.

    Via the ACLU: “The Miseducation of Betsy DeVos (Apologies, Lauryn Hill).”

    “Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats,” says Diane Ravitch. TBH, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

    More on DeVos’s ed-tech investments in the research section below.

    Via Edsurge: “Possible ‘Fraud, Theft, Waste, and Abuse’: Report Questions NYC School Broadband Spending.”

    Via NPR: “Texas Lawmakers Revive ‘Bathroom Bill,’ OK Religious Refusal Of Adoptions.” Via WaPo: “Texas House passes ‘bathroom bill’ restricting transgender student access.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via WaPo: “Private investigator accused of seeking Trump’s tax records through financial aid website.” More via Diverse Issues in Higher Education, who I believe broke the story.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dubious arrests, damaged lives” – “How shelters criminalize hundreds of children.”

    Via Education Week: “Court Orders Pa. to Approve Thrice-Rejected Cyber Charter Applicant.” That’s the Insight PA Cyber Charter School.

    More on for-profits’ legal machinations in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on immigration in the courts in the legal section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    “The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools” by Liz Dwyer. Spoiler alert: it’s the College Board.

    Via The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service: “Local students struggle after changes to GED test.”

    Via Education Week: “In Race for Test-Takers, ACT Outscores SAT– for Now.”

    Via The NYT: “As Pollen Counts Rise, Test Scores Fall.”

    Via Education Week: “Market Is Booming for Digital Formative Assessments.”

    Via Education Week: “Iowa schools to stop using $14M testing software after audit.”

    Via Education Dive: “Testing centers a growing source of higher ed revenue.”

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Board of Trustees approved regulations for the state’s new tuition-free public college tuition program Thursday, including some key regulations that would seem to address concerns about residency and credit-completion requirements.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Buzzfeed: “Trump Is Under Pressure To Deliver On Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness.”

    “On track for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Good news, you’re not in danger from Trump’s budget,” says The Washington Post. This is still terrible news for those not yet “on track,” including those weighing degrees and careers in public service.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How Trump’s Student Loan Proposals Could Affect You.”

    Via The New York Times: “Education Dept. Keeps Obama Plan to Streamline Loan System.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Says It Will Pick Single Loan Servicer.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “About 234,000 defaulted student loan borrowers with debt valued at $4.6 billion will be stuck in limbo and unable to get out of default if a judge’s order is not lifted this week, the Department of Education said in a court filing Friday.”

    More on the business (and the politics and the legality) of financial aid in the politics section above and in the for-profit higher ed section below. And more on data and research on student loan debt in the research section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of California for-profit colleges filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking to block the implementation of borrower-defense rules finalized last fall.”

    University of Colorado Denver students can earn college credit by taking courses at the coding bootcamp Galvanize. (Worth noting: the website promotes private student loan companies SkillsFund and Climb to students looking for tuition assistance.)

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via Slate: “The New Diploma Mills.”

    There’s more from Slate in its series on online credit recovery programs: “Why Bad Online Courses Are Still Taught in Schools.”

    George Mason University and Old Dominion University have launched the Online Virginia Network, “an online portal where students can browse both institutions’ online programs and calculate the cost of earning a degree.” Online portals still makin’ news.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via NPR: “Mark Zuckerberg Tells Harvard Graduates To Embrace Globalism, ‘A Sense Of Purpose’.” He mentioned something in his commencement speech about “personalized learning,” which I think – if we’re talking about Facebook’s vision of such things – means profiling users, getting them to click on things, and selling advertising based on their data. “Mark Zuckerberg Should Really Listen to Himself,” says Wired’s Nitasha Tiku.

    Related: “‘Harvard Crimson’ Site Is Hacked to Take Jabs at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Also related:

    Via Buzzfeed: “Harvard’s Closed Captioning Malfunctioned And Turned Zuckerberg’s Speech Into A Jibberish Tone Poem.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “Over 100 Students Walk Out of Mike Pence’s Commencement Address” at Notre Dame.

    “Dozens of Middlebury Students Are Disciplined for Charles Murray Protest,” The New York Times reports in a story that does not cite a single student involved in opposing Murray’s presence at the school.

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “Police, FBI investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime.” Richard Collins III was set to graduate Bowie State University this week. Sean Urbanski, a member of a white supremacist group, was arrested for stabbing him. More via The NYT.

    “It Runs Deep and We Can’t Talk It Out: On Campus Racism and the Murder of Richard Collins III” by Daniel Greene.

    Via The New York Times: “Surprise for a Mother Who Helped Her Paralyzed Son in Every Class.” They both graduated from Chapman University. Disability journalist David Perry responds: “Inspiration Porn Watch: Mom Gets Degree, Disabled Son Erased.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Mizzou’s Freshman Enrollment Has Dropped by 35% in 2 Years. Here’s What’s Going On.”

    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy on allegations of racial bias in Princeton’s admission practices.

    Via The New York Times: “Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.” Maddi Runkles won’t be able to participate in graduation because she’s pregnant, her school says.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Caltech Professor Who Harassed Women Was Also Investigated For Creating An Imaginary Female Researcher.” The professor in question: astrophysics professor Christian Ott.

    Via NPR’s Code Switch: “Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students.”

    Via The Times-Picayune: “New Orleans principal loses job after wearing Nazi-associated rings in video.” Nicholas Dean was a principal at the charter school Crescent Leadership Academy. 99% of the students at this school are African-American. Can you fucking imagine sending your child off every day to this man’s school?!

    Via Chalkbeat’s Colorado newsroom: “Jeffco Public Schools suspended an average of four young students a day last year – and district officials are paying attention.”

    “How far should a university go to face its slave past?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. Um…. all the way?

    Via Times Higher Education: “German Universities Oppose Plan to Compete on Teaching Quality.”

    “How teachers can support students during Ramadanby Rusul Alrubail.

    Via “Channelview ISD [in Channelview, Texas] teachers are being disciplined after naming a student ‘most likely to become a terrorist.’”

    Via WaPo: “Teachers gave a teen with ADHD a ‘Most Likely to Not Pay Attention’ award.”

    Pull your shit together, teachers.

    Via The NYT: “Student Brought Loaded Gun to Brooklyn School, Police Say.”

    More on guns at schools in Georgia in the sports section below.

    Via “For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Edsurge: “Texas Partners With BloomBoard to Bring Competency-Based PD to the State.” (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and Bloomboard share investors.)

    Also via Edsurge: “Why There’s Little Consistency in Defining Competency-Based Education.” The story is part of a new guide, sponsored by D2L, on CBE. (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and D2L share investors.)

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the Bleacher Report: “Georgia Law Will Allow Carry of Handguns at Public University Tailgate Events.” Guns will be allowed at more than just sports events, but as US News & World Report observes, “No Storage, Signs on Georgia Campuses as Gun Ban Lifts.”

    From the HR Department

    Bro Adams announced his resignation as the chairman of the NEH.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “UC Berkeley fires instructor following sexual harassment claims.” That’d be Blake Wentworth, who taught in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies.

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi co-founder Dan Macklin is leaving the company.”

    Via the ProQuest press release: “Matti Shem Tov, President of Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, will succeed Kurt Sanford as CEO of ProQuest in 2017.”

    The Business of Job Training

    A report from VC firm GSV Acceleration: “It’s a Breakout: Capital Flows In the Learning and Talent Technology Market.”

    According to this Techcrunch article, MOOCs like Udacity and Coursera weren’t working out for AirBnB so now it is “running its own internal university to teach data science.”

    Via Edsurge: “Would You Like Higher Ed With That? Guild Education’s Playbook to Educating Employees.” (No disclosure in this article that Edsurge shares investors with Guild Education.)

    The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has held its final show. What’s going to happen to all those clown colleges and clown training programs?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Via MinnPost: “Almost 50 years ago, Oregon Trail revolutionized educational software. Can the game’s creators do it again?”

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    In January, Edsurge announced it was pivoting to focus on its procurement service to schools. Now, four months later, it says it’s shutting down its Concierge service to focus on building an “online diagnostic tool.” (Note what happens to the data.)

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill onBarnes & Noble Education’s Predictive Analytics Deal With Unizin.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

    “Tracking Google and Microsoft Adoption in Higher Ed” by Jim Siegl.

    How Google is ruining the Web.

    Via The Guardian: “ Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence.”

    Via Edsurge: “EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at Overhaul.”

    The New York Times profiles the College Advising Corps: “Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Raspberry Pi Foundation and CoderDojo to code club together.”

    “Ed-Tech Publishing Group Wrestles With Shift to ‘Student-Centered’ Learning,” says EdWeek Market Brief’s Michele Molnar, reporting from the Association of American Publishers’ PreK–12 Learning Group’s conference.

    Via Edsurge: “OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024.” (I’ll keep track of this via my new project that tracks these sorts of predictions about the future. Do remember: Clayton Christensen has predicted that by that date, half of all universities will be bankrupt.)

    Via Edsurge: “Turnitin Offers Lexile Scores to Help Teachers Better Assign Reading Passages.” (Both Lexiles and Turnitin are pretty terrible, I’d add, although for different reasons. One is a proprietary (mis)measurement of reading levels; the other makes proprietary decisions based on students’ IP.)

    Speaking of IP: “All the Second Life rabbits are doomed, thanks to DRM,” Boing Boing reports.

    Via Edsurge: “Massive Data Breaches, Billions in Wasted Funds: Who Is Holding Edtech Vendors Accountable?” Insert shrug emoji here.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Disability Scoop: “Mom Designs Drone To Track Kids Who Wander.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Coaching service Paragon One has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Learn Capital, University Ventures, Li Yuan Ventures, Altair Ventures, Jimmy Lai, and Jeff Xiong.

    Publisher eDynamic Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Gauge Capital.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The Verge: “This French school is using facial recognition to find out when students aren’t paying attention.” The school: the ESG business school. The software: Nestor, creatored by LCA Learning. In Greek mythology, Nestor did not participate in the looting of Troy, but clearly this software – it’s a trap! – is very much interested in looting students’ data.

    Via Information Observatory: “Academic Surveillance Complex.”

    Via Education Dive: “School administrators want ability to filter Wi-Fi on school buses.”

    An update from Edmodo’s CEO about the company’s recent security breach and advertising program.

    Via The Intercept: “Facebook Won’t Say If It Will Use Your Brain Activity for Advertisements.” Man, Zuckerberg’s plans for personalized learning are gonna be so swell.

    Via MIT Technology Review: “Google Now Tracks Your Credit Card Purchases and Connects Them to Its Online Profile of You.” Aren’t you glad schools have embraced Google Apps for EDU so readily?!

    Data and “Research”

    “Here’s How a Student ‘Unit Record’ System Could Change Higher Ed,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Edsurge: “Meet Caliper, the Data Standard That May Help Us (Finally) Measure Edtech Efficacy.”

    Speaking of extracting people’s data without their knowledge or consent, this via Joel Winston: “ takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “As ed reformers urge a ‘big bet’ on personalized learning, research points to potential rewards – and risks.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report on online education landscape suggests potentially leaner times ahead for colleges hoping to profit in the market. Community colleges are already seeing it.”

    FdB’s “study of the week” looks at entrance exams.

    Via NPR: “Preschool, A State-By-State Update.”

    Music Teachers Believe a Lot of Myths,” according to research reported by Pacific Standard.

    Kevin Carey on William Sanders, “The Little-Known Statistician Who Taught Us to Measure Teachers” (and who gave us the “value-added” model.)

    Via Education Week: “Big Data in Education Needs Better Outreach, National Report Says.”

    Via NY Magazine: “Women Hold Nearly Two-Thirds of Outstanding Student-Loan Debt.”

    Via Bryan Alexander: “Higher education enrollment declined in 2017. Again.”

    Via Edsurge: “Study Finds Classroom-Response ‘Clickers’ Can ‘Impede Conceptual Understanding’.”

    A new study has found that “fitness trackers suck at counting calories,” as Techcrunch puts it. The devices were more accurate, however, at monitoring heart-rates – “approaching something useful in a clinical setting.” (Here’s a link to the study.) Remember: consumer tech does not pass the sorts of regulatory mechanisms required for medical tech – when it comes to the accuracy of the data tracking or the security and privacy of data storage. Perhaps something to think about as ed-tech proponents laud hardware, software, and consumer-oriented (ed-)tech as unleashing and reflecting new “learning sciences.”

    Speaking of “learning sciences,” this from Ulrich Boser: “Betsy DeVos has invested millions in a ‘brain training’ company that’s based on dubious science. I went to check it out.” I’m shocked – shocked! – that “dubious science” is at play at an education technology company.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 06/02/17--05:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Releases Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.” For a Secretary of Education to speak on this is odd, at best. For Banana Republicans, perhaps less so. More on DeVos and climate changevia The Washington Post.

    “Some Hires by Betsy DeVos Are a Stark Departure From Her Reputation,” says The New York Times. Key word: “some.”

    Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is launching DeVos Watch, an initiative to hold the Department of Education“accountable.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “For Betsy DeVos and her former advocacy group, the future of education means ‘personalization,’ including virtual schools.” Her “former advocacy group” – although considering she spoke there last week, I’m not sure how “former” it really is – is the American Federation for Children.

    The Atlantic writes about the absence of Betsy DeVos at this year’s Education Writers Association conference.

    Via The Washington Post: “Eighth-graders from N.J. refuse to be photographed with Ryan.” That’s Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, not one of the more beloved American Ryans: Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Seacrest.

    “U.S. Department of Education Launches New IDEA Website,” the Department of Education’s press release pronounces. The website went offline shortly after DeVos’ confirmation, causing many to panic since she seems to have little interest in her confirmation hearings in promoting educational equity and little knowledge about special education and federal law.

    More on federal financial aid in the business of student loans section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The Washington Post: “With state budget in crisis, many Oklahoma schools hold classes four days a week.”

    Via ProPublica: “Voucher Program Helps Well-Off Vermonters Pay for Prep School at Public Expense.”

    New Mexico’s Public Colleges Breathe Easier, as Governor Signs Budget Bill,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Immigration and Education

    Via Politico: “Trump administration asks Supreme Court to reinstate travel ban.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of State has received emergency approval from the Office of Management and Budget to collect additional information regarding certain visa applicants’ travel and employment histories, familial connections, and social media usage in accordance with a notice it posted in the Federal Register May 4. The approval from OMB is for six months rather than the usual three years.”

    Education in the Courts

    “A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a transgender student’s challenge to a Wisconsin school district’s policy limiting his restroom usage – a big win for those seeking to advance transgender rights in the courts,” Buzzfeed reports.

    Via the WFF: “Supreme Court Victory for the Right to Tinker in Printer Cartridge Case.” The case involved Lexmark, a major supplier to schools, which had tried to keep customers from refilling their printer cartridges.

    Via Edsurge: “BrightBytes Tried to Buy Hapara. Then a Better Offer – and a Legal Complaint – Emerged.” No disclosure in the article that Edsurge shares investors with both these companies.

    More on Trump’s legal efforts to reinstate his “Muslim ban” in the immigration section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    “At last weekend’s annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Boston, Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg sounded an alarm about the influence of standardized tests on American society,” says Scientific American, publishing a Q&A with Sternberg about his concerns.

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Tuesday a new tuition-free college program for low-income students in Boston. Boston Bridge would be available for 2017 high school graduates who live in the city.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    From the Department of Education’s press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today announced the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is now available for borrowers applying for an income-driven repayment plan. New encryption protections have been added to the Data Retrieval Tool to further protect taxpayer information. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will return Oct. 1, 2017, on the online 2018–19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.”

    Via Edsurge: “A Basic Glossary to Income Share Agreements, a New Approach to Student Finance.” The op-ed is penned by someone from Vemo Education, who sells this “solution” to students. No disclosure, no surprise, that Edsurge shares investors with this company.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    For-profit tactics might be coming to public universities, and no one is talking about it,” says Salon, which is funny because I’ve been tracking on the “new” for-profit higher ed for years now, and my friend Tressie McMillan Cottom literally wrote the book on this. But hey.

    Bethune-Cookman Had a Reason to Invite Betsy DeVos to Give That Calamitous Commencement Speech,” The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani reports, suggesting that the HBCU wants to stay in the administration’s good graces because of its affiliation with for-profit law schools that are on probation.

    Via The Washington Post: “A coding school where college grads train and work without spending a dime.” No dime spent perhaps, but Revature takes a percentage of graduates’ pay.

    The coding bootcamp Andela is expanding into Uganda, Techcrunch reports.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Here’s a link to all the stories in Slate’s series on online credit recovery programs.

    “After the Hype, Do MOOC Ventures Like edX Still Matter?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education, with a question that’s probably better suited for the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section below.

    Via The Next Web: “Facebook is letting Groups create online learning courses– what could possibly go wrong?”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Hillary Clinton gave the commencement speech at her alma mater, Wellesley, and everyone’s got a goddamn opinion on this, don’t they.

    “A Princeton professor who recently criticized Trump in a commencement speech cancels planned public speaking events, saying she’s received death threats for her comments,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Funny how all those “free speech advocates” who wring their hands and claim that liberal students on college campuses are a danger to the First Amendment have little to say in support of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Why, it’s almost like “free speech” isn’t what many of these folks are interested in at all.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Puerto Rico’s Universities Are Facing An Unprecedented Crisis.”

    UC reverses policy, won’t pick up tab for regents’ parties,” The San Francisco Chronicle reports. However will they cope.

    Via The Seattle Times: “Evergreen State College closes after caller claims to be armed, en route to campus.”

    “When UConn broke up with Adobe: A parable of artists and copyright” by Tom Scheinfeldt.

    Via the BBC: “Edinburgh University blames a system error for ‘failed degree’ emails.”

    Politico profiles charter school chain founder Eva Moskowitz.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Inside Higher Ed writes about accreditation and the “Fine Print and Tough Questions for the Purdue-Kaplan Deal.”

    From the HR Department

    Carmen Twillie Ambar has been named the new president of Oberlin College.

    Via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Troubled cops land jobs in Georgia schools.”

    Southern New Hampshire University“lays off dozens of remote, part-time staffers (with plans to hire full-timers) as part of a reorganization process ahead of projected enrollment growth for its competency-based division,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Adjuncts at Northwestern University have voted to unionize.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Techcrunch: “Walmart is bringing VR instruction to all of its U.S. training centers.”

    Contests and Awards

    NPR on the Scripps National Spelling Bee: “For First Time In 4 Years, Solo Speller Claims National Bee Crown.” Congratulations, Ananya Vinay.

    (Related, via WaPo: “The National Spelling Bee’s new normal: $200-an-hour teen spelling coaches.”)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Via eSchoolNews: “Is VR education an answer to the U.S. inmate problem?” (This reminds me of this wretched “thought experiment” posted in 2015: “How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix The Prison System.” The answer in this case is not simply “no” à la Betteridge. It’s “no” and “fuck no” and “fuck you.”)

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via CNBC: “This start-up is offering $8,000 blood transfusions from teens to people who want to fight aging.” The startup is called Ambrosia, and it sounds a lot like a Peter Thiel fantasy.

    Via The New York Times: “The Rise and Fall of Yik Yak, the Anonymous Messaging App.”

    “As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Cheating,” according to The New York Times.

    “The Turing Tumble lets you and your kids build real mechanical computers,” says Techcrunch.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Months after deleting controversial lists of “predatory” journals and publishers, the librarian behind them still faces anonymous harassment online.” The librarian in question is Jeffrey Beall. (Incidentally, I saw lots of harassment online this week from these predatory journal folks, but as Bill Fitzgerald notes, Twitter still does little to address abuse on its platform.)

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Venture Beat: “The AI Buddy Project is building an assistant to support kids of military families.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Yuanfandao has raised $120 million from Warburg Pincus and Tencent. The tutoring company has raised $244.2 million total.

    Epic! has raised $8 million in Series C funding from Reach Capital, Innovation Endeavors, Menlo Ventures, Rakuten Ventures, Social Starts, Translink Capital, and WI Harper Group. The e-book subscription service has raised $21.45 million total. (There’s actually a disclosure on Edsurge’s reporting of the investment that it shares an investor with Epic!)

    Yogome has raised $6.6 million in Series A funding from Seaya Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, and VARIV Capital. The educational game maker has raised $9.63 million total.

    KidPass has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding from Javelin Venture Partners, Bionic Fund, Cocoon Ignite Ventures, CoVenture, FJ Labs, TIA Ventures, and Y Combinator. The subscription services for kids’ activities has raised $6.3 million total.

    Genext Students has raised $580,000 in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. The tutoring company has raised $780,000 total.

    Civitas Learning has received an undisclosed amount of investment from the Lumina Foundation and Valhalla Charitable Foundation. The predictive analytics company has previously raised $63.95 million.

    Viridis Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Salesforce Ventures. The job placement company has previously disclosed investments totalling $3.2 million.

    Pinboard acquires Delicious. Do read the announcement.

    Not really ed-tech, but keep an eye on how Silicon Valley wraps itself in the language of “democracy” while taking steps to undermine its very systems. Via Techcrunch: “Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sam Altman invest $30 million in”

    I’ve updated my calculations on the amount of venture capital funding in the ed-tech industry for the month of May. (Note: I published this before the news about the $120 million invested in Yuanfandao, and I haven’t had a chance to update that report yet.)

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via the AP: “The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has released a study showing more than a dozen school districts can monitor how students use borrowed laptops and other electronic devices.”

    Mashable reports completely uncritically on “How a university campus is using facial recognition to keep its dorms safe.” The university in question: Beijing Normal University.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is encouraging its 237 member institutions to equip its campus police departments with body-worn cameras– or at least test the technology.”

    Data and “Research”

    Venture capitalist Mary Meeker released her “Internet Trends” report, giving tech publications an opportunity to decide if they’ll embed all the slides on one post or force folks to click through multiple pages – yay! pageviews! advertising! – to see what she has to say. As Inc notes, the report has ballooned to 355 slides, up from 66 in 2011. “Software is eating the world” or “venture capitalists have no fucking clue” – you decide.

    “From digital commons to the data-fied urge: Theorising evolving trends in the intersections of digital culture and open educationby Giota Alevizou.

    Via The New York Times: “Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools.”

    Via Education Week: “Federal Data Give the Clearest Look Yet at America’s Homeless Students.”

    The New York Times (op-ed page) on the “2017 College Access Index.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Lots of people are excited about career and technical education. But new international research points to a potential downside.”

    Via The Bookseller: “Children’s love of reading at all-time high, research shows.” The research comes from the National Literacy Trust’s (NLT) Young Readers Programme, which found that 77.6% of primary school students it surveyed say they enjoy reading.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Most former college students say they would change either their major, college attended or credential pursued if they could do it all over again, survey finds.” The survey comes from Gallup and Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds).

    Via Edsurge: “Where Do US Teacher Salaries Really Go the Furthest?”

    UVA’s Daniel Willingham responds to recent claims that valedictorians aren’t “disruptors.” on a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting: “As rates of suicidal youth increase, doctors look at influence of school, internet.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Government data single out schools where low-income students fare worst.”

    The Wall Street Journal offers analysis of the socioeconomic well-being of Americans in rural areas, and it’s not a rosy picture: “Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’.”

    Edsurge describes“How Edtech Companies Blur the Lines Between Commercial and Research Data.” Me, I’m really looking forward to Edsurge’s new "research project testing the idea of an online diagnostic tool"!

    If you thought “digital natives” was one of the worst phrases ever to strike ed-tech, I give you the word “phigital.”


    Sister Joel Read, the former president of Alverno College, passed away at the age of 91. “While president, she pioneered a program in which the curriculum was organized around abilities students needed for various degrees, and assessment programs were created for those abilities and the broader impact of the Alverno education,” Inside Higher Ed notes. “The assessment efforts at Alverno were adopted many years before such practices became common – and influenced many other colleges.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    I delivered this talk today at the OEB MidSummit conference in Reykjavik, Iceland

    I recognize that the theme of this conference is “shaping the future of learning” but I want to talk a little bit about the past. I want us to think about the ways in which the history of learning – how we tell that story – shapes the future of learning, and how the history of technology (education technology and otherwise) – and how we tell that story – shapes the future of technology. I want us to recognize there is a history even in the face of a fervent insistence that new, digital technologies are poised to sweep away traditional institutions and traditional practices. You know the stories: revolutions and disruptive innovations and other millennialist mythologies: the end of history, the end of work, the end of college, and so on.

    You hear a lot of these sorts of proclamations when it comes to “personalized learning,” which is (increasingly) frequently invoked in direct opposition to some imagined or invented version of learning in the present or in the past. Education technologists and futurists (and pundits and politicians) like to provide these thumbnail sketches about what schooling has been like– unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years, some people (who are clearly not education historians) will try to convince you. They do so in order to make a particular point about their vision for what learning should be like. “The factory model of education” – this is the most common one – serves as a rhetorical and political foil against which reforms and technological interventions can be positioned. These sorts of sketches and catchphrases never capture the complex history of educational practices or institutions. (They’re not meant to. They’re slogans, not scholarship.) Nevertheless these imagined histories are often quite central to the premise that education technology is different and disruptive and new and, above all, necessary.

    There is no readily agreed upon meaning of the phrase “personalized learning,” which probably helps its proponents wield these popularized tales about the history of education and then in turn laud it – “personalized learning,” whatever that is – as an exciting, new corrective to the ways they claim education has “traditionally” functioned (and in their estimation, of course, has failed).

    “Personalized learning” can mean that students “move at their own pace” through lessons and assignments, for example, unlike those classrooms where everyone is expected to move through material together. (In an invented history of education, this has been the instructional arrangement for all of history.) Or “personalized learning” can mean that students have a say in what they learn – students determine topics they study and activities they undertake. “Personalized learning,” according to some definitions, is driven by students’ own interests and inquiry rather than by the demands or standards imposed by the instructor, the school, the state. “Personalized learning,” according to other definitions, is driven by students’ varied abilities or needs; it’s a way of navigating the requirements of school bureaucracies and requesting appropriate accommodations – “individualized education plans” and the like. Or “personalized learning” is the latest and greatest – some new endeavor that will be achieved, not through human attention or agency or through paperwork or policy but through computing technologies. That is, through monitoring and feedback, through automated assessment, and through the programmatic presentation of new or next materials to study.

    “Personalized learning,” depending on how you define it, dates back to Rousseau. Or it dates back further still – to Alexander the Great’s tutor, some guy named Aristotle. It dates to the nineteenth century. Or to the twentieth century. It dates to the rise of progressive education theorists and practitioners. To John Dewey. Or to Maria Montessori. Or it dates to the rise of educational psychology. To B. F. Skinner. To Benjamin Bloom. It dates to special education-related legislation passed in the 1970s or to the laws passed the 1990s. Or it dates to computer scientist Alan Kay’s 1972 essay “A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages.” Or it dates to the Gates Foundation’s funding grants and political advocacy in the early 2000s. Take your pick. (Take your pick. Reveal your politics.)

    I want to talk to you today about the history of personalized learning – in no small part because it’s taken on such political and financial and rhetorical significance. Andrew Keen alluded to this yesterday in his remarks about the efforts of Silicon Valley’s philanthro-venture-capitalism in shaping the future of education. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, are plowing billions of dollars into “personalized learning” products and school reforms. That seems significant – particularly if we don’t understand or agree on what the phrase actually means. (That means, it seems likely, that these billionaires get to decide, not progressive educators.)

    So, where did this concept of “personalized learning” originate? Who has propagated it? When? Why? How has the meaning of the phrase changed over time? That’s a lot to do in a 20 minute talk, so I’m going to offer you several histories, origins, and trajectories of “personalization” more broadly – as a cultural not just technological or pedagogical practice.

    The OED dates the word “personalization” in print to the 1860s, but the definition that’s commonly used today – “The action of making something personal, or focused on or concerned with a certain individual or individuals; emphasis on or attention to individual persons or personal details” – dates to the turn of the twentieth century, to 1903 to be precise. “Individualization,” according to the OED, is much older; its first appearance in print was in 1746.

    The Google Ngram Viewer, which is also based on material in print, suggests the frequency of these two terms’ usage – “individualization” and “personalization” – looks something like this:

    In the late twentieth century, talk of “individualization” gave way to “personalization.” Why did our language shift? What happened circa 1995? (I wonder.)

    Now, no doubt, individualism has been a core tenet of the modern era. It’s deeply enmeshed in Western history (and in American culture and identity in particular). I always find myself apologizing at some point that my talks are so deeply US-centric. But I contend you cannot analyze digital technologies and the business and politics of networks and computers without discussing how deeply embedded they are in what I’ve called the “Silicon Valley narrative” and in what others have labeled the “California ideology” – and that’s an ideology that draws heavily on radical individualism and on libertarianism.

    It’s also an ideology – this “Silicon Valley narrative” – that is deeply intertwined with capitalism – contemporary capitalism, late-stage capitalism, global capitalism, venture capitalism, surveillance capitalism, whatever you prefer to call it.

    Indeed, we can see “personalization” as both a product (and I mean quite literally a product) of and a response to the rise of post-war consumer capitalism. Monograms on mass-produced objects. Millions of towels and t-shirts and trucks and tchotchkes that are all identical except you can buy one with your name or your initials printed on it. “Personalization” acts as some sort of psychological balm, perhaps, to standardization.

    A salve. Not a solution.

    But “personalization” is not simply how we cope with our desire for individuality in an age of mass production, of course. It’s increasingly how we’re sold things. It’s how we are profiled, how we are segmented, how we are advertised to.

    Here’s Wikipedia’s introduction to its entry on “personalization,” which I offer not because it’s definitive in any way but because it’s such a perfect encapsulation of how Internet culture sees itself, sees its history, tells its story, rationalizes its existence, frames its future:

    Personalization, sometimes known as customization, consists of tailoring a service or product to accommodate specific individuals, sometimes tied to groups or segments of individuals. A wide variety of organizations use personalization to improve customer satisfaction, digital sales conversion, marketing results, branding, and improved website metrics, as well as for advertising.

    How much of “personalized learning” as imagined and built and sold by tech companies is precisely this: metrics, marketing, conversion rates, customer satisfaction? (They just use different words, of course: “outcomes-based learning,” “learning analytics.”)

    Online, “personalization” is how we – we the user and we the consumer as, let’s be clear, those are the frames – are convinced to take certain actions, buy certain products, click on certain buttons, see certain information (that is to say, learn certain things). “Personalization” is facilitated by the pervasive collection of data, which is used to profile and segment us. We enable this both by creating so much data (often unwittingly) and surrendering so much data (often voluntarily) when we use new, digital technologies. “The personal computer” and such.

    (You know it’s “personal.” You get to change the background image. It’s “personalized,” just like that Coke bottle.)

    The personal computer first emerged as a consumer product in the 1970s – decades after educational technologists and educational psychologists had argued that machines could “personalize” (or at the time, “individualize”) education.

    Among these first teaching machines was the one built by Ohio State University psychology professor Sidney Pressey. His device, “the Automatic Teacher,” was constructed out of typewriter parts. He debuted it at the 1924 American Psychological Association meeting. A little window displayed a multiple choice question, and the student could press one of four keys to select the correct answer. The machine could be used to test a student – that is, to calculate how many right answers were chosen overall; or it could be used to “teach” – the next question would not be revealed until the student got the first one right, and a counter would keep track of how many tries it took.

    The “Automatic Teacher” wasn’t Pressey’s first commercial move. In 1922 he and his wife published Introduction to the Use of Standard Tests, a “practical” and “non-technical” guide meant “as an introductory handbook in the use of tests” aimed to meet the needs of “the busy teacher, principal or superintendent.” By the mid–1920s, the two had over a dozen different proprietary standardized tests on the market, selling a couple of hundred thousand copies a year, along with some two million test blanks.

    Yes, standardized testing had already become commonplace (in the American classroom at least) by the 1920s, and this practice placed a significant burden upon those teachers and clerks tasked with scoring them. Pressey argued that the automation of testing could “free the teacher from much of the present-day drudgery of paper-grading drill, and information-fixing – it should free her for real teaching of the inspirational.” No doubt, these arguments echo those made today about how ed-tech will free the teacher for more individualized attention, instruction, and remediation.

    But I think Pressey’s work also serves to underscore this other tension that we find throughout the twentieth century. This isn’t simply about “labor-saving devices” or instructional or administrative efficiency. The “Automatic Teacher” was also a technology of individualization, one that Pressey and others since have insisted was necessitated by the practices and systems of standardization in schools, by the practices and systems of mass education itself.

    It’s significant, I think, that early teaching machines were developed by psychologists and justified by psychology – very much a science of the twentieth century. After all, psychology – as a practice, as a system – helped to define and theorize the individual, “the self.” Self-management. Self-reflection. Self-help. Self-control.

    Individualization through teaching machines is therefore a therapeutic and an ideological intervention, one that’s supposed to act as a salve in a system of mass education. And this has been the project of education technology throughout the twentieth century.

    I recognize that I put “pigeons” in the title of this talk and I haven’t yet made the connection between the history of personalization and the history of pigeon training. It’s there in the history of educational psychology, in the history of behavioral modification, in the history of teaching machines. But I opted to scrap the ending I’d originally written for this talk – one that, I promise, tied it all together. Instead of the pigeons of ed-tech, I feel compelled to end with some thoughts on the politics of ed-tech.

    Institutions face an enormous crisis today – one of credibility and trust, one that Chris Hayes identified in 2012 in his book Twilight of the Elites. He argued that

    We now operate in a world in which we can assume neither competence nor good faith from the authorities, and the consequences of this simple, devastating realization is the defining feature of American life at the end of this low, dishonest decade. Elite failure and the distrust it has spawned is the most powerful and least understood aspect of current politics and society. It structures and constrains the very process by which we gather facts, form opinions, and execute self-governance. It connects the Iraq War and the financial crisis, the Tea Party and MoveOn, the despair of laid-off autoworkers in Detroit to the foreclosed homeowners in Las Vegas and the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans: nothing seems to work. All the smart people fucked up, and no one seems willing to take responsibility.

    We can add to Haye’s list, of course, more recent events: Brexit and Donald Trump and the latter’s withdrawal last week from the Paris Climate Accord. They can’t even get the weather report right, the President of the United States of America reportedly quipped to friends over golf; why should we trust climate scientists? This “death of expertise” has profound implications, no doubt, for the future of education, scholarship, teaching and learning, democracy. And, as Andrew Keen observed yesterday, we must consider the ways in which “populism” and “personalization” as cultural and political and economic forces might actually be intertwined – how the algorithmically-driven Facebook’s News Feed, most obviously, has only served to make things worse.

    A journalist recently asked the US Secretary of Education about different rates of discipline for students of color and students with disabilities, and if this was a problem her office intended to address. Addressing the racial disparities in school discipline – and addressing this as a civil rights issue– had been a major focus of the Obama Administration’s final few months. Betsy DeVos responded, “I think that every student, every individual is unique and special and we need to be really intent on focusing on the needs of each individual student.”

    For DeVos – and for many, many others – “personalized learning” means just this: “we need to be really intent on focusing on the needs to each individual student.” The needs of the individual to the benefit of the individual. But to DeVos – and to many, many others – exalting the freedom of the individual here also means freedom from government control (from government control over the education system). It’s not freedom from corporations, oh no; it’s freedom from the state and more explicitly freedom from the regulations that have been put in place in the last sixty years to try to force educational institutions to be more equitable. We heard Donald Clark argue yesterday that schools need to become unsafe spaces again, but let’s recognize that schools have never been “safe spaces” for most of the people on this planet.

    When Betsy Devos and others say that “we need to be really intent on focusing on the needs to each individual student,” what she doesn’t add is that all risk, in this worldview, would fall on the individual as well, of course. In a world with no institutions – unbundled and disintermediated as Silicon Valley is clearly keen to do – there are no institutional protections. With no government oversight, there is no appeal to civil rights.

    So this is our challenge in the face of those calling for “personalized learning” – the Betsy DeVoses and the Mark Zuckerbergs. And it’s our challenge, not only in education technology, but in democracies more generally: can we maintain a shared responsibility for one another when institutions are dismantled and disrupted? Will we have any semblance of collective justice in a “personalized,” algorithmically-driven world?

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  • 06/09/17--07:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared in front of a Senate subcommittee this week to talk about Trump’s budget proposal. “Asked About Discrimination, Betsy DeVos Said This 14 Times,” NPR reports: “Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law.” That is, she completely hedged on whether or not schools could discriminate against LGBTQ students.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos’s comments on discrimination drew headlines, but her stance isn’t unique among private school choice backers.”

    Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said Thursday that he is still part of a higher education initiative for President Donald Trump,” Politico reports. “But he said the initiative is different from the group he had been tapped to lead in late January.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump Will Push Apprenticeships, Using Accreditation and Student Aid.”

    Via ProPublica: “Here Are the Financial Disclosures of 349 Officials Trump Has Installed Across the Government.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Adam Kissel, formerly of the Koch Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Indianapolis businessman Al Hubbard won’t join Betsy DeVos at the U.S. Department of Education.”

    “After nearly seven years on the job, New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is stepping down,” The Albuquerque Journal reports.

    Via Pacific Standard: “What L.A.’s Mumps Outbreak Tells Us About Our Vaccine Policies.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Canadian province of Ontario will invest about $740,000 (one million Canadian dollars) toward developing free online textbooks, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development said this week.”

    Education Aid Eludes Countries That Need It Most,” says NPR.

    More on for-profit higher ed policies in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined without comment to hear an appeal of a ruling that bars a technical college from drug testing all students.”

    Via The Washington Post: “A Georgia sheriff ordered pat-down searches for every student at a public high school. Now they’re suing.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Graham Spanier, 2 Other Ex-Penn State Officials Get Jail Time in Sandusky Case.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “ACT Scores Go Missing in Los Angeles, Leaving About 125 Students in Limbo.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via ProPublica: “A Federal Regulator Is Probing Wells Fargo’s Mortgage Practices.” Yes, I know this is a loan for a house not for a college education. But pay attention anyway.

    Edsurge plugsEntangled Solutions’ recent report on** income sharing agreements**.

    More on student loans (namely, people in powerful political office with connections to the student loans industry) in the politics of education section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Update on Moves by ACICS-Accredited Colleges.”

    “Education Dept. Gives Firm Hint at Rollback of Gainful-Employment Rule,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    The New York Times profiles the teacherless coding bootcamp Holberton.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    If you can’t create revenue, raise venture capital. That seems to be Coursera’s business model. Details on the investment in the business of ed-tech section below.

    Kiron and Red Hat have joined edX.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Notre Dame to launch its first online master’s. University joins growing number of institutions opting to outsource online course development on fee-for-service basis.”

    Via Education Week: “Online charter school in Ohio set to graduate 2,000 students.” The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow has been in trouble with Ohio about how it reports attendance.

    Via Edsurge: “As LinkedIn’s Video Library Grows, Company Says It Has No Plans to Compete With Colleges.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “Kids Are Quoting Trump To Bully Their Classmates And Teachers Don’t Know What To Do About It,” says Buzzfeed, winning this week with the headline “The Kids Are Alt-Right.”

    Southeastern Bible College will close its doors.

    Via The LA Times: “At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard.”

    Via The Harvard Crimson: “Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Penn State Says It Will ‘Take Control of Greek Life’ After Student’s Death.”

    Via The New York Times: “Colleges Get Proactive in Addressing Depression on Campus.”

    “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that it will receive a $140 million gift from an alumnus who seeks to remain anonymous,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via The New York Times: “Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “180 College and University Leaders Sign Pledge on Climate Change.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Digital Badges Are Gaining Traction,” according to MIndwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    Related, via Doug Belshaw: “Some thoughts on the future of the Open Badges backpack.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A panel of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers has released guidance to its members on how to include disciplinary notations on transcripts of students who are seeking to transfer to other institutions.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “White paper explores changing the accreditation system to encourage continuous improvement and open the door to ‘alternative’ education providers.” The white paper comes from Ithaka S+R.

    More on accreditation issues in the politics and in the for-profit sections above.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Why did UNC cancel a class on athletic scandals, including the one at Chapel Hill?

    Inside Higher Ed onVideo Games as a College Sport.”

    From the HR Department

    Udemy has a new CEO: “Kevin Johnson, former CEO of EBates, a marketplace for coupons and shopping discount deals.”

    Boyd Bischoff, formerly an executive at Amazon, will be the new CIO for WGU.

    “​Shortly Before Raising More Funding, Civitas Laid Off 10% of Its Staff,” says Edsurge.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The New York Times: “With Innovation, Colleges Fill the Skills Gap.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can Technology Help Teachers Start Tough Conversations about Race?asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    The New York Times’ Natasha Singer onThe Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools.”

    Via Fortune: “Inside Odyssey: The Decline of a College Media Empire.”

    Oculus Rift boasts that it’s opening an education pilot program in 90 California libraries.

    Meanwhile, Oculus Rift founder and Hillary Clinton shit-poster Palmer Luckey has moved on to his next project: making surveillance technology for Donald Trump’s wall. But I’m sure the VR you’re promoting in your school is going to be lovely.

    Google has launched a curriculum called “Be Internet Awesome” to encourage digital safety and citizenship. So many reasons why Google is the wrong entity to claim any sort of leadership position here, but hey.

    Via Edsurge: “How U of Michigan Built Automated Essay-Scoring Software to Fill ‘Feedback Gap’ for Student Writing.”

    Textbook publishers announce new measures to curb counterfeiting of physical books, including certification seals on book covers,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Can we just say that if counterfeiting textbooks is a problem it’s because they’re too damn expensive, not because students are buying “fakes”?

    Sunny Lee writes on the WCET Frontiers blog on “Relaunching the EdSurge Product Index.”

    Handshake today said its career-services platform is now in use at more than 350 colleges and universities, a jump from the 160 institutions that the start-up touted earlier this year,” Inside Higher Ed reports. That’s despite privacy concerns about the company.

    Via Education Week’s Market Brief: “LearnZillion, Lemann Foundation Partner on Curriculum in Brazil.”

    GeekDad reviews a “wellness tracker” to strap to your child.

    GeekWire on an app called LAUGH that purports to help kids with mindfulness.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Techcrunch: “Sesame Workshop and IBM team up to test a new A.I.-powered teaching method.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    Gates, Zuckerberg Philanthropies Team Up on Personalized Learning,” Education Week reports. “Two of the biggest names in technology and education philanthropy are jointly funding a $12 million initiative to support new ways of tailoring classroom instruction to individual students.” The money goes to New Profit, which will in turn dispense the funds.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Coursera has raised another $64 million in funding from GSV Asset Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lampert Foundation, Learn Capital, and New Enterprise Associates. The MOOC provider has now raised $210 million total.

    The coding bootcamp Trilogy Education has raised $30 million in Series A funding from City Light Capital, Highland Capital Partners, and Rethink Education.

    Apptegy has raised $5.7 million in Series A funding from Five Elms Capital. The school messaging system has raised $6.8 million total.

    Snapask has raised $5 million in seed funding from Kejora, Cai Wensheng , and Welight Capital. The “personalized learning” company has raised $6.8 million total.

    Literacy app BookNook has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, the Urban Innovation Fund, Impact Engine, and Better Ventures.

    The Tennessee Book Company, a subsidiary of the Ingram Content Group, has acquired the assets of learning and analytics platform Thrivist.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The New York Times: “The Teenage Life, Streamed Live and for Profit.”

    “The Telltale Data That Can Identify College Students at Risk” – according to The New York Times at least.

    Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life” by Cracked Labs’ Wolfie Christl.

    Data and “Research”

    Stanford professor claims to have discovered something called active learning.” News at 11.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Does State Support Have ‘Weak’ Connection to Tuition? Association Begs to Differ.” Beware: think tank “research.”

    The Pew Research Center is out with a report that asks “experts” about the future of the Internet of Things.

    Times Higher Education writes about a pan-European survey: “Poll indicates stronger popular support across countries for job-related training than for universities.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Declines in bachelor’s degrees awarded are particularly notable for English and history, but trends at community colleges may cheer advocates for the liberal arts.”

    UVA’s Daniel Willingham onAdaptive practice, personalized learning, and what will ‘obviously’ work in education.”

    The wearables market is growing, according to Campus Technology.

    Dubious Study by xkcd

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    I delivered this talk today at the NMC Summer 2017 conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Thank you very much for inviting me to your conference. I know there have been lots of murmurs about what it means that someone who’s been quite critical of the Horizon Report project would be invited to speak, let alone to get to offer the closing remarks.

    So I’ll say at the outset that I’m not here to offer solutions or resolutions or absolutions. The latter’s the job of your priest, and none of these the job of your keynote speaker. I will not be assigning penance today – although as a scholar of history and culture, I do want you (all of us, really) to think about what we’ve done; to think about what we’ve said; to think about the stories we tell about the future of technology and education.

    That is the purpose of the Horizon Report, of course: it’s a story about the future. It’s a story designed to share, one you can tell others; and like certain genres of storytelling, it’s one particularly well-suited for urging people to behave in certain ways. It’s one that aspires to shape the future in a certain direction. Or in the seasonally inappropriate words of John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie: You better watch out, you better not cry / you better not pout / I’m telling you why / artificial intelligence is four to five years on the horizon.

    I spend a lot of time talking about what I call “the history of the future” of education technology. I’m interested in the stories we tell and the stories we have long told about the shape of things to come. (That is to say, the shape of things we believe, we hope, we imagine, we worry, and we predict will come.)

    I am interested in how technology functions in those stories as a motif, a symbol, a theme, and sometimes even a protagonist in its own right. I’m interested in how technology functions in those stories as a set of imagined practices, as a reflection of a certain mindset – a mindset that, no matter the sweeping sagas, is bound to and bound by its teller’s contemporaneity. I’m interested in what we believe technology will do. I’m interested in why we believe technology will work, and in why technology is featured so prominently in stories about the future. Why and where.

    I realize this is an education conference, but I’m going to shift the “where” of my focus today to stories about the future of technology that take place outside of the school and the classroom. I want to talk about the history of the future of technologies of the home. My rationale is severalfold:

    First, education technology is boring; or at least its stories, repetitive. You’ve sat here through a couple of days’ worth of presentations on ed-tech, and perhaps you’re a little tired of it too. (Or perhaps I’m projecting.) To borrow from “Norman’s Law of eLearning Tool Convergence,” no matter the stories we tell about innovation, no matter the predictions we make about disruption, in time everything in ed-tech becomes indistinguishable from the learning management system. I do not want to talk about the LMS – not today, not ever to be perfectly frank; not as a portal, not as a “personalized learning environment,” not as a “next generation learning environment,” not as infrastructure, not as ideology, not as a conduit for our failed imagination.

    Second, I want to talk about the future of the home because I want us to think about the history of consumer products. Although in many ways, education technology has been more closely associated with what some people call “enterprise technology” – that is, the kinds of mostly administrative software and services sold to large organizations (corporations, governments, K–12 school districts, universities) – education technology is deeply intertwined with consumer tech and trends. I’m not sure those in education technology always want to talk about this consumer framework – we like to pretend we use technology because it will “improve teaching and learning,” not because we’ve been heavily marketed certain products and certain stories about the necessity of our technology consumption. We prefer to think of ourselves as professors or pedagogues or scholars or students, not as consumers or users.

    No doubt, today’s technology companies view students and schools as a largely untapped market. But that’s not new. Technology companies – particularly those hawking aspirational, education-related products – have long viewed parents in a similar way. But now “software is eating the world,” as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wants to us all to believe. That is to say in my mind at least, Silicon Valley ideology – libertarian, individualist, consumerist, capitalist – seeks to mediate all relationships: social, professional, civic, familial.

    So I want to consider the history of technologies of the home – the social and the economic history. What do we expect this technology to do? How does this technology actually function? Who does it benefit? What does it signal? Whose values, whose imagination does it reflect? Who builds it? Who buys it? Whose home is this technological imaginary that we are apt to tout?

    Sidenote: Someone from the Clayton Christensen Institute recently invoked the history of household appliances in an op-ed for Edsurge, asking “Is Your Edtech Product a Refrigerator or Washing Machine?” These two appliances are meant to serve in the article as an analogy for ed-tech adoption – something about how quickly we embrace products that fit into the home as-is as compared to ones that require we restructure entire rooms and lay new pipes – “incrementalism” versus “transformation,” I suppose. “Reform” versus “revolution.” The historical timeline in the op-ed’s a bit off, historian Jonathan Rees has pointed out, noting that many of us still get by just fine without having a washing machine at home. New technology replacing and displacing and disrupting older technology is not inevitable, no matter how often those from the Clayton Christensen Institute like to tell that story.

    Sidenote to the sidenote: A press release from early May pronounced that “Global Innovation Guru Clay Christensen Predicts Disruption in the Domain of Parenting.”

    Pay attention to these stories. Pay attention to these storytellers. But pay critical attention. Pay attention critically. Ask better questions about why they’re inventing these histories and predicting these futures.

    The third reason why I want to talk about technology and the home: I want us to think specifically about technology and labor, about sites of production and reproduction – yes in a Marxist sense – particularly the production and reproduction of knowledge and culture; and I want us to think about love and care. Affective labor. Emotional labor. Who do we imagine is doing this work? Do we value it?

    My aim here is to “defamiliarize” a discussion of education technology, shifting the focus so that we can perceive it differently. As I explore with you some technologies of child-rearing (new and old), I want you to think, at every turn, about how these technologies and these practices are prescribed for the home and for the schoolhouse – or at least for some homes and some classrooms.

    In January of this year, at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mattel (or rather, its subsidiary Nabi) unveiled Aristotle, a “smart baby monitor” – what it claimed was the world’s first. Companies always hope they’ll be able to make headlines at CES, and Aristotle received a fair amount of attention this year. There were stories in the usual tech publications – Engadget, PC World, CNET – as well as in the mainstream and tabloid press – USA Today, ABC News, Fox News, The Daily Mail. Bloomberg heralded the device as “Baby’s First Virtual Assistant.” And here’s how Fast Company described the voice-activated speaker/monitor, which is set to launch some time next month (the release day keeps getting postponed):

    Aristotle is built to live in a child’s room – and answer a child’s questions. In this most intimate of spaces, Aristotle is designed to be far more specific than the generic voice assistants of today: a nanny, friend, and tutor, equally able to soothe a newborn and aid a tween with foreign-language homework. It’s an AI to help raise your child.

    Now that’s obviously a series of sentences that situates the device among its competitors today (those “generic voice assistants”), but that also serves as a very imaginative marketing of a technological future (one where a machine can “aid a tween with foreign-language homework”). It is not a list of actual technical specifications. Indeed, since CES the specifications for Aristotle have changed substantially. Mattel has cancelled its integration with Amazon Alexa, for example, which was supposed to power the speaker and facilitate the parts of “parent mode” that involved shopping for baby supplies.

    Here’s how the Mattel website, where you can pre-order the device, now describes Aristotle’s features:

    Aristotle™ combines multiple nursery devices into one convenient, hands-free system. It’s a smart baby monitor, multi-color LED nightlight, WiFi HD camera, Bluetooth® speaker and sound machine, all in one!

    The convenient Aristotle™ App lets you keep a close eye and ear on your baby from your smart device via WiFi internet connection. Easily track and store your baby’s feeding, changing and sleeping patterns, and receive notifications to alert you of important reminders in real time. You can even find out if your little one is fussy with the cry detector!

    With the App’s “Do this When” tool, you can create customized actions that respond automatically to your baby. For example, you can program Aristotle™ to respond to your baby’s cries with a personalized soothing light and sound combination.

    There is a lot packed into that marketing material, not just about the specifics of the device for sale but about the cultural and commercial expectations of parenting. It’s also full of buzzwords that will be familiar to those who work in education technology: personalization, analytics, real-time notifications, convenience.

    But gone from the Mattel website are the boasts made at CES about what one of its executives said was “the fundamental problem of most baby products, which is they don’t grow with you.” Aristotle was couched in much of the CES coverage as a virtual assistant that would offer, if not “lifelong learning” explicitly, then at least an AI that would learn about the child and teach her as she grew into a teen. All those promises that this $350 device would be something parents would keep in their child’s room long after the supposed need has passed for a “smart baby monitor” – they’re now nowhere to be found. What remains is some fairly boilerplate language about an Internet-connected device.

    What happened? Was this a matter of promising too much about a technology? Or did the marketing actually create fear and uncertainty rather than excitement?

    (Let’s be clear: these gulfs between marketing’s promises and technologies’ capabilities and consumers’ interests and desires appear regularly. Think the repeated failures of VR or AI to live up to the hype.)

    To give you a flavor of what company executives, and in turn technology reporters, gushed about at CES, here’s more from Fast Company, which I apologize for quoting at length, but it’s amazing how swept up in the story about the future of high-tech parenting that the publication seemed to be:

    …It’s the child-to-Aristotle connection that makes the device such an interesting entrant in the rapidly commoditized voice-assistant market. …

    Key to that is Aristotle’s ability to understand young voices. “It was one of the core things we tried to resolve from the get-go,” says [one executive]. “Our audience often says words completely differently [even from one another].” To deal with that complication, Mattel partnered with PullString, a San Francisco–based company that focuses on AI conversation and speech recognition. Embedded with PullString’s platform, Aristotle will mature alongside its young listeners, constantly improving its recognition capabilities as children get older. For toddlers, Aristotle will turn its LED various colors and ask the listener to identify them; older kids can ask Aristotle factoids like, “Who was the 16th president of the United States?” or request to play a game.

    All of this points at Aristotle’s greater intent: It’s built for play. Mattel is, after all, a toy company with lots of intellectual property. “Imagine what happens with Hot Wheels and Thomas the Tank Engine when you have this connected hub,” says [a Mattel executive] of Aristotle’s future ecosystem. “Do you hear sound effects? Can you have greater interactions?” Mattel imagines that even cheap, simplistic die-cast cars can be loaded with low-cost chips to connect to Aristotle. Meanwhile, the device’s camera will use object recognition to identify flash cards, or even a toy without any special electronics, essentially adding interactions to make it feel more dynamic. The company is aiming to roll out these features early next year.

    I mean, I guess we’ll see about that – if any of this particular techno-fantasy ever materializes from Mattel, let alone “early next year.” We, the reader and consumer, are asked to believe a lot of bullshit in that passage: that the device works, that the AI “learns,” that quizzing children on factoids is a technological and pedagogical breakthrough, that this is the future of play.

    Mattel is already selling an Internet-connected Barbie – Hello Barbie – and an Internet-connected Barbie Dreamhouse, much to the consternation of privacy and information security advocates who caution that these devices are incredibly insecure, that the microphone and the stored audio files are readily accessible to hackers. Incidentally, these two Barbie toys use the same voice-recognition technology as the Aristotle: ToyTalk, now rebranded as PullString.

    Perhaps we might recognize, as we wait to see if Mattel’s or Clayton Christensen’s predictions about the future come true, that this fantasy of the robot companion or caretaker has its own, long history – stories that elicit fear as often as comfort. There’s Olympia in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s 1816 short story “The Sandman,” for example, which Sigmund Freud used as the basis for his analysis of “the uncanny” – that unsettling feeling of something strangely, frighteningly familiar. “Das unheimlich,” Freud observed, is a German word that contains in it an ambivalence: “heimlich” – meaning the home, something familiar, and also something hidden – and its reverse and its pair, “unheimlich” – the unspoken, the repressed. The robot, or rather a seemingly living automaton in “The Sandman,” veers towards “das unheimlich.” Making the familiar unfamiliar. The basis for many horror stories.

    And yet at CES and elsewhere, technologists insist this is what we will want in the home. (The liberal arts matter, technologists, I promise you.)

    Now, the difference between the PR at CES in January and the marketing on the Mattel website in June might be striking, but it’s not really surprising. The point of CES, after all, is not so much to showcase what technology can do but to suggest what it might be able to do. Each and every year, the event is full of promises and vaporware – prototypes that never make it into production, products that never make it onto store shelves. CES truly encapsulates what I’ve argued elsewhere: that “the best way to predict the future is to issue a press release.” One tells powerful stories about what’s “on the horizon” in order to help shape imaginations and markets. Imaginations and markets.

    What stories, what forces helped shape the market for baby monitors? Baby monitors have a history, of course – a social history and a history of the technology itself. We did not “need” baby monitors until quite recently, in no small part because our current system of sleeping – adults in one room, children each in their own – did not exist before the late nineteenth century. The idea that babies should sleep alone is even newer, reinforced by the rise of the disciplines of psychology and pediatrics in the early 20th century and by the market for parenting books and child-rearing products that developed alongside the “science.”

    The first baby monitor – the “Radio Nurse” – was built by Zenith Radio Corporation in 1937. Zenith’s president, Eugene F. McDonald Jr., had cobbled together his own experimental system for his yacht using what was already a popular and accessible medium of the time: radio broadcasting. Zenith engineers polished McDonald’s prototype into a two-piece set: the “Guardian Ear,” which was plugged in next to the baby’s crib, transmitted sounds; and the “Radio Nurse,” which was plugged in next to the listening caregiver, received them. Isamu Noguchi, a well-known Japanese-American sculptor, was commissioned to design the latter, something he made out of Bakelite, which according to the curator of the Henry Ford Museum, was “an impressive abstract form that managed to capture the essence of a benign, yet no-nonsense nurse.”

    “The essence” of a nurse. A curved plastic box. “Das unheimlich.”

    The Radio Nurse was never a commercial success; the monitor picked up all sorts of other radio broadcasts, not just those from the baby’s room. Nevertheless, the baby monitor has since become a consumer product that parents are expected to own, often justified as a medical precaution, even though there’s no evidence that these devices prevent or even reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

    Interestingly, infant mortality was not the inspiration for the Radio Nurse – or so the story goes. Zenith’s president felt compelled to build a monitor for his own child following the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932.

    The “crime of the century” and its trial were covered extensively by newsreels, and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby shaped Americans’ imagination. It prompted the passage of several laws relating to abduction. Now, I don’t want to overstate the importance of this particular crime in fostering the notion that babies need more monitoring, particularly in light of the various reform efforts made in the early twentieth century to protect children’s safety and well-being in general. But we can see in the Radio Nurse, I think, a technological intervention to that end – the embrace of a popular story that children are in danger, that they need to be surveilled when they are out of sight for their own protection; and it’s an early embrace too of a story that parenting can and should be mechanized. For the sake of “progress,” the twentieth century demanded it.

    I would be remiss if I neglected to talk at an education technology conference about one of the most controversial “parenting machines” of the twentieth century: the “air crib” designed by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, the infamous trainer of pigeons and inventor of teaching machines. First called the “baby tender” and then – and I kid you not – the “heir conditioner,” the device was meant to replace the crib, the bassinet, and the playpen. (There are echoes of this “efficiency” in Mattel’s Aristotle – “multiple nursery devices” in “one convenient, hands-free system.”)

    Skinner fabricated the climate-controlled environment for his second child in 1944. Writing in Ladies Home Journal the following year, Skinner said,

    When we decided to have another child, my wife and I felt that it was time to apply a little labor-saving invention and design to the problems of the nursery. We began by going over the disheartening schedule of the young mother, step by step. We asked only one question: Is this practice important for the physical and psychological health of the baby? When it was not, we marked it for elimination. Then the “gadgeteering” began.

    The crib Skinner “gadgeteered” for his daughter was made of metal, larger than a typical crib, and higher off the ground – labor-saving, in part, through less bending over, Skinner argued. It had three solid walls, a roof, and a safety-glass pane at the front which could be lowered to move the baby in and out. Canvas was stretched across the bottom to create a floor, and the bedding was stored on a spool outside the crib, to be rolled in to replace soiled linen. It was soundproof and “dirt proof,” Skinner said, but its key feature was that the crib was temperature-controlled, so save the diaper, the baby was kept unclothed and unbundled. Skinner argued that clothing created unnecessary laundry and inhibited the baby’s movement and thus the baby’s exploration of her world.

    As a labor-saving machine, Skinner boasted that the air crib meant it only would take “about one and one-half hours each day to feed, change, and otherwise care for the baby.” Skinner insisted that his daughter, who stayed in the crib for the first two years of her life, was not “socially starved and robbed of affection and mother love.” He wrote in Ladies Home Journal that

    The compartment does not ostracize the baby. The large window is no more of a social barrier than the bars of a crib. The baby follows what is going on in the room, smiles at passers-by, plays “peek-a-boo” games, and obviously delights in company. And she is handled, talked to, and played with whenever she is changed or fed, and each afternoon during a play period, which is becoming longer as she grows older.

    Much like the Radio Nurse, the air crib did not catch on, quite possibly because of that very Ladies Home Journal article. Its title – “Baby in a Box” – connected the crib to the “Skinner’s Box,” the operant conditioning chamber that Skinner had designed for his experiments on rats and pigeons, thus associating the crib with the rewards and pellets that Skinner used to modify these animals’ behavior in his laboratory. Indeed, the article described the crib’s design and the practices he and his wife developed for their infant daughter as an “experiment” – a word that Skinner probably didn’t really mean in a scientific sense but that possibly suggested to readers that this was a piece of lab equipment, not a piece of furniture suited for a baby or for the home. The article also opened with the phrase “in that brave new world which science is preparing for the housewife of the future,” and many readers would have likely been familiar with Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World, thus making the connection between the air crib and Huxley’s dystopia in which reproduction and child-rearing were engineered and controlled by a techno-scientific authoritarian government. But most damning, perhaps, was the photo that accompanied the article: the Skinner baby enclosed in the crib, with her face and hands pressed up against the glass.

    The article helped foster an urban legend of sorts about Deborah Skinner – that being raised in the crib had caused grave psychological trauma, that she’d gone mad, that she’d committed suicide. None of these are true. “I was not a lab rat,” she wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian in 2004. But that’s the story that gets told nonetheless. That’s the popular perception of what this particular piece of parenting technology might do: deprive the child of love and socialization.

    The air crib, psychologists Ludy Benjamin and Elizabeth Nielsen-Gamman argue, was viewed at the time as a “technology of displacement” – “a device that interferes with the usual modes of contact for human beings, in this case, parent and child; that is it displaces the parent.” It’s a similar problem, those two scholars contend, to that faced by one of Skinner’s other inventions, the teaching machine – a concept he came up with in 1953 after visiting Deborah’s fourth-grade classroom. These technologies both failed to achieve widespread adoption, according to Benjamin and Nielsen-Gamman, because they were seen as subverting valuable human relationships – relationships necessary to child development.

    Now arguably, the most significant (and in some circles, alarming) parenting technology of the twentieth century was neither the baby monitor nor the air crib; it was the television. Children in post-war America were increasingly left alone while their parents were at work, some feared, without adequate adult supervision. (Children being left alone, of course, wasn’t new. But white, middle-class fears about “unaccompanied minors” were heightened for a number of reasons – and no doubt connected to changing cultural expectations and socio-economic pressures regarding working mothers as well as the social construction of a category of young people – “the youth.”) Subsequently (or ostensibly) children were being “raised,” educated, entertained by television – again, a technology that people worried might serve to undermine healthy childhood development by displacing parental authority, by exposing them to “inappropriate content” and to commercials.

    Some of that moral panic has extended these days to other “screens,” even though American children do still watch a phenomenol amount of television – 19 hours a week for those age 2 to 11, according to the latest figures from Nielsen– much of it “unsupervised.” But one of the promises of new screens and new parenting technologies: unlike the television, these can watch children back. Again, I give you the marketing materials from Mattel: “The convenient Aristotle App lets you keep a close eye and ear on your baby from your smart device.” You can monitor the sounds the child makes through the microphone; you can monitor the movements the child makes through the camera; you can monitor all activity – physical and digital – through the computer’s activity logs. You can monitor them wherever they go without you: in their bedroom, in their classroom.

    These new parenting devices try very hard to convince us that they are not a “technology of displacement,” but rather one of enhancement. They insist they do not interfere with parental relationships but enable them and extend their reach, even in a parent’s physical absence. This is not a matter of replacing parents with machines, but rather augmenting parenting with machines. As Stirling University’s Ben Williamson describes Mattel’s Aristotle, the “smart baby monitor” purports to be “the algorithmic solution to many parents’ problems – the automated in-loco-parentis figure that possesses endless energy, requires no sleep, does the shopping, and keeps the baby entertained and educated in ways that exceed human capacity.”

    This argument should be quite familiar to those of us in ed-tech. This is the story we hear and we tell about computers, about algorithmic systems like adaptive learning, predictive analytics, personalization. Enhance, not replace. It’s the story B. F. Skinner told some sixty years ago about teaching machines too. “Will machines replace teachers?” he asked. “On the contrary,” he said,

    they are capital equipment to be used by teachers to save time and labor. In assigning certain mechanizable functions to machines, the teacher emerges in his proper role as an indispensable human being. He may teach more students than heretofore – this is probably inevitable if the world-wide demand for education is to be satisfied – but he will do so in fewer hours and with fewer burdensome chores.

    “Chores” – an interesting word choice, one that posits the work of the classroom alongside the work of the home. It’s not really clear in this passage by Skinner what these tasks might be. What are “mechanizable functions” and what, by extension, are not? In the case of Mattel’s Aristotle, these functions seem to include not only monitoring a sleeping child, alerting a parent to her cries, but playing with the child, comforting the child, talking and singing and reading to the child.

    Raising a child, this story suggests, can be mechanized. Interacting with a child can be mechanized. Caring for a child can be mechanized. That’s quite an unsettling story, I think. “Das unheimlich.” But Fast Company likes it. And perhaps if people tell us the story often enough, they’ll change the way in which we all think. Maybe they’ll change how we think about robots. Maybe they’ll change how we think about parenting.

    Indeed, last week I was on stage with someone from Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank co-founded by Ray Kurzweil, who insisted that this would be our future: we will love and be loved by robots. We will be raised by robots. (She cited Mattel’s Aristotle as an example.) We will be taught by robots. We will age and we will die with robot caretakers.

    But robots don’t love. Robots don’t care. They don’t now; they never will – no matter the stories futurists tell us. “I think eventually [robots will] be able to act just like they are falling in love,” Google AI expert Peter Norvig told The Daily Beast in 2013 in response to the Spike Jonze movie Her. But is being programmed to act like love the same as love?

    This is a philosophical question, to be sure. But it’s a political one as well, I’d contend, and maybe a pedagogical one too. And it’s a question we must ask, particularly as companies try to extend their reach with their products and their promises of thinking machines. How might programmatic, algorithmic child-raising technologies change our notions of love, of care, of humanity? How might they already be doing precisely that?

    Through their design and their implementation, through the way in which they incentivize certain activities, technologies shape and reshape our practices and our relationships. They shape our imaginations, and technologies in turn are shaped by the imaginative stories we tell and we hear, by our beliefs and our practices.

    Will a robot raise your child? Sixty years ago, when B. F. Skinner was trying to convince families and schools to buy air cribs and teaching machines, the answer from parents and teachers was overwhelmingly “No.” But now?

    I’m not sure we are as resistant to the language of engineering and optimization, even in our most intimate spaces and relationships. It’s not that the technology is better either. Mostly, it’s not. New technologies, and the ideologies that underpin them, have brought the language of efficiency and productivity out of the workplace and into the classroom and into the home – into the realm of reproductive labor. Everything becomes a data-point to be tracked and quantified and analyzed and adjusted as (someone deems) necessary. Everything must be made perfectly observable, even when no human is there to watch.

    And so: the quantified parent. The quantified baby. The quantified child. The quantified family. The quantified bedroom. The quantified bathroom. The quantified laundry room. The quantified kitchen. Quantified feedings. Quantified diaper changes. Quantified nap times. Quantified gurgles. Quantified smiles. Quantified word use. Quantified play.

    All of this will be facilitated by “smart devices” in our “smart homes” under the guise of engineering (and that is the operative word) “smart children.” New, networked systems will optimize parenting and child development algorithmically. Or so we’re told.

    It seems quite likely that the ways in which a white child from an affluent two-parent family would experience these parenting and education technologies would be quite different from the way in which a brown child with a poor single mom would. (There are no people of color in any of the images I used today. This science fiction imaginary. Did you notice?) A brave new world indeed.

    We’re supposed to be thrilled about this “enhancement.” Or so I gather from the marketing for parenting and education technologies. So we’re told by CES. So we’re told by the Horizon Report.

    Somewhere along the way, I think, we have confused surveillance for care. This is not necessarily a recent or emergent phenomenon – we can trace it back, at the very least, to the Radio Nurse and this compulsion to monitor our babies. This confusion – surveillance for care – has profound implications for how we raise children, no doubt. It has profound implications for how we teach and learn. It has profound implications for how we trust and respect one another.

    Love and care and respect for one another – I’m an idealist, yes –that must be the work of all humans. That is the work of parenting (even for non-parents). That is the work of teaching too. I truly, truly hope we never convince ourselves that this can, that this should be the work of a machine.

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  • 06/16/17--07:25: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    “To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education,” says The New York Times.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Task Force With Falwell Is Happening, White House Says.”

    “More than 150 House and Senate Democrats sent Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a letter Monday that objected to her department’s recently announced shift in how it chooses the contractors that service federal student loans,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Buzzfeed: “How Betsy DeVos Could Break Up The Charter School Coalition.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department Quietly Invited Anti-LGBT Groups To A Father’s Day Event.” The groups, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, both advocate for “gay conversion therapy.”

    More on the reversal of Obama-era rules regulating for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Via ProPublica: “Trump Administration Quietly Rolls Back Civil Rights Efforts Across Federal Government.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education last week outlined changes to civil rights investigations that advocates fear will mean less consistent findings of systemic discrimination at colleges.”

    More on lawsuits against the Department of Education relating to Title IX in the courts section below.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump Signs Order to Ease Federal Restrictions on Apprenticeships.” “What’s At Stake in President Trump’s Order to Revamp Apprenticeship Programs,” according to Edsurge. More via Inside Higher Ed.

    “The Department of Education appears ready to update the College Scorecard later this year,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week would create a demonstration project for competency-based education programs. The project would grant statutory and regulatory flexibility to participants, such as in the application of federal financial aid rules, while also creating new requirements aimed at accountability and transparency.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “President Trump is expected today to direct changes to American policy toward Cuba, including by stepping up enforcement of the statutory ban on travel to Cuba for tourism-related purposes and by eliminating an option for Americans to travel to the island for individual people-to-people exchanges outside the auspices of an organized group, according to senior White House officials. However, 12 other forms of travel – which would include various forms of academic travel – will continue to be permitted.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Foreign faculty and researchers traveling to Canada to work on projects at public universities and affiliated research institutions will be allowed to stay for up to 120 days without a work permit as part of a new Global Skills Strategy announced Monday by Canada’s government.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, said to be in a coma, released from North Korea.”

    Trump Orders Government to Stop Work on Y2K Bug, 17 Years Later,” Bloomberg reports.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A pending Connecticut law will now mandate that the University of Connecticut and the state’s four other public universities publicly release data on which transfer student credits they accept and which they reject.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a higher education bill that would have capped bachelor’s degree enrollments at [**Florida’s two year] colleges**, removed the two-year institutions from the purview of the State Board of Education and renamed the state institutions ‘community colleges,’ as they were called eight years ago.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A second federal appeals court ruled Monday against President Trump’s travel ban, upholding an injunction imposed by a lower court.”

    Trump Ditches His Promise to ‘Terminate’ DACA,” The Atlantic reports. “Dreamers’ to Stay in U.S. for Now, but Long-Term Fate Is Unclear,” says The New York Times.

    Via Reuters: “U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum on Thursday rescinding an Obama-era plan to spare some illegal immigrant parents of children who are lawful permanent residents from being deported, the department said in a statement.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ICE nabs teenager hours before his senior prom, days before his graduation ceremony.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Washington Post: “The National Women’s Law Center filed suit Monday against the Education Department in an effort to force the release of information about federal enforcement of Title IX, a law that governs how schools handle campus sexual harassment and assault.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal district court judge last week ordered the Department of Education to rule within 90 days on an application for loan relief by a former Corinthian Colleges student. The application has been pending for more than two years.”

    Via Politico: “Carl Paladino, the Buffalo school board member who was quoted making derogatory and racist comments about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama last December, filed a civil rights complaint against the school board, which is seeking to boot him.”

    Via The New York Times: “Success Academy and other charter schools won a victory in a long-running dispute with New York City when a state appeals court ruled on Thursday that the city cannot regulate a charter school’s prekindergarten programs.”

    Via The New York Times: “Rolling Stone to Pay $1.65 Million to Fraternity Over Discredited Rape Story.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A state-court jury in Connecticut on Thursday sided with a fraternity whose house was closed by Wesleyan University in the fall of 2015 after the fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, resisted complying with a university mandate to admit women.”

    Via The New York Times: “Penn State Student’s Dying Hours Play Out in Courtroom Video.”

    “America Keeps Criminalizing Autistic Children,” David Perry writes in the Pacific Standard.

    Via Ars Technica: “A federal appeals court today struck down price caps on intrastate phone calls made by prisoners. Inmates will thus have to continue paying high prices to make phone calls to family members, friends, and lawyers.”

    More on legal cases regarding for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on legal cases regarding immigration in the immigration section above.

    “Free College”

    NPR on free college in Tennessee.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The free public college movement crept into another state Thursday when the University of Michigan rolled out a new program offering four years of free tuition in Ann Arbor for full-time in-state undergraduates with family incomes up to $65,000 per year.” (Probably worth checking out Sara Goldrick-Rab’s comments on Twitter about this one.)

    Via The Times Higher Education: “British Election Restores Tuition Debate” – that is, school should be free, and young voters went for Labour in the recent elections in part over this issue.

    The Business of Student Loans

    There’s more on the politics of student loans in the politics section above and on various legal battles in the courts section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. Halts New Rules Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges.” These rules are the “gainful employment” rule and the “borrower defense to repayment.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Is Halting Protections For For-Profit College Students.”

    Here’s the Department of Education’s statement on the news, giving some bullshit excuse that this is “protecting students”.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Two former students of an Education Management Corporation-owned for-profit college have filed suit to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit challenging borrower-defense regulations.”

    The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has given its okay to the sale of Education Management Corp to the Dream Center.

    An op-ed in Inside Higher Ed from EAB’s Melanie Hoe: “What the Purdue-Kaplan Deal Means for You.”

    Via Education Dive: “The Purdue-Kaplan Earthquake.”

    Via Edsurge: “What Is ‘Quality’? Task Force Seeks Comment on Higher-Ed Outcomes Reporting Standards.” The task force, put together by Entangled Solutions, includes “25 members from think tanks (including education policy wonk Rick Hess from the American Enterprise Institute), colleges (University of Texas), coding bootcamps (Galvanize), investment banking (Tyton Partners), and accounting firms (Ernst & Young).” Fox. Henhouse. Etc. Entangled Solutions’ consultants Deborah Seymour and Michael B. Horn write about this for Inside Higher Ed: “For-Profit University 2.0.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Big HR news about Coursera in the HR section below.

    Here’s the headline from Inside Higher Ed: “For-Credit MOOC: Best of Both Worlds at MIT?” But if you look closer, it’s not a MOOC; it’s just an online class at MIT.

    Via Education Week: “Ohio Orders State’s Largest Cyber Charter to Repay $60M in Attendance Dispute.”

    Tony Bates on a new report on the future of Athabasca University.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Guardian: “Open University jobs at risk in £100m ‘root and branch’ overhaul.”

    Via Wired: “Schools Tap Secret Spectrum to Beam Free Internet to Students.” This is at Monticello High School in Albemarle County, Virginia.

    Still in its early stages, this ambitious project relies on a little-known public resource – a slice of electromagnetic spectrum the federal government long ago set aside for schools – called the Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Some internet-access advocates say EBS is underutilized at best, and wasted at worst, because loose regulatory oversight by the FCC has allowed most of the spectrum to fall into the hands of commercial internet companies.

    Via The New York Daily News: “Mom banned from Brooklyn Success Academy charter school until she says sorry to principal for saying ‘damn’ near kids.”

    “Records Show Nearly a Dozen of the Biggest School Districts Lack Air Conditioning,” The 74 reports.

    Via The Washington Post: “Can they unplug? A principal will pay students to forgo screen time this summer.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    “The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges restored Compton Community College’s accreditation last week,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The accrediting agency for the Southern United States has granted initial accreditation to Bob Jones University, another step in a years-long process by the Christian institution – which has a long history of discrimination – to try to join the higher education mainstream. Bob Jones long shunned all federal accreditation.”

    More on accrediting for-profits in the accreditation section above.

    “Providing some clarity on Open Badges 2.0by Doug Belshaw.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education.”

    Also via The Hechinger Report: “The future of proficiency-based education.”

    Digital Promise and Education Elements have released a “toolkit” on competency-based education.

    Via Raw Story: “BUSTED: Trump Treasury pick took 4-week course on Dartmouth campus and called it a degree.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Brad Pitt, Michael B. Jordan sign on to Atlanta school cheating movie.” Ryan Coogler will direct the film, based on the Atlanta School District’s cheating scandal, and Ta-Nehisi Coates will write the screenplay.

    Via The New York Times: “New York to Shorten Standardized Tests in Elementary and Middle Schools.”

    Via NPR: “Advanced Placement Exam Scores In Alabama On The Rise.”

    “Faulty AP exam data spells problems for California Department of Education,” says Education Dive.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Cal State to End Placement Exams.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Louisville’s head basketball coach has been suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games of the season, a piece of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s punishment stemming from a prostitution scandal that has roiled the institution for two years.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Colorado chancellor suspended 10 days for not telling authorities of allegations of domestic violence by assistant coach. Athletics director, head coach ordered to each pay $100,000.”

    From the HR Department

    Coursera has a new CEO: Jeff Maggioncalda. As Edsurge observes, “New CEO at Coursera Comes From Financial Tech, Not Higher Ed” – he was the co-founder of Financial Engines, a retirement planning company. He places former Yale president Richard Levin.

    Tracy K. Smith has been named the next US poet laureate.

    Drew Faust Will Step Down as Pioneering President of Harvard,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Cory Reid, who previously ran two edtech companies – Instructure and MasteryConnect – as their chief executive, has landed a new gig at Tyton Partners,” says Edsurge, failing to disclose that it shares investors with MasteryConnect.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Six years after adjuncts at Manhattan College voted to form a union, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board this week certified the election.”

    Student workers at the University of Chicago’s library have voted to unionize.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The College of New Rochelle on Monday announced 32 layoffs, including 10 tenured faculty members.”

    More on HR changes in the sports section above.

    The Business of Job Training

    Edsurge interviews the CEO of Guild Education as part of “thought leader” series out of ASU-GSV, but fails to disclose that these companies share investors.

    Via the press release: “Amazon Announces More Than 10,000 Employee Participants in Career Choice and Expects to Reach 20,000 Participants by 2020.”

    Contests and Awards

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City’s largest school charter network, Success Academy, has won the 2017 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Are Virtual Schools the Future?” asks The Atlantic.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “What’s Wrong With Letting Tech Run Our Schoolsby “Math Babe” Cathy O’Neil.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Facebook, an Online Learning Platform?”

    Via Edsurge: “Now Any Organization Can Create Content for LinkedIn Learning.”

    Stanford University’s Larry Cuban on Class Dojo.

    Via Edsurge: “Kahoot Toots 50 Million Monthly Active Users – and a Timeline to Revenue.” The company has raised $16.5 million in venture capital.

    A helpful guide of places to avoid from Business Insider: “Billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse– here’s where they’re going.”

    “The Case for Learning Platform Grade Bookby Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    Google Drive will soon back up your entire computer,” says The Verge. But only if you let it. Don’t.

    “ The top 5 trends in K–12 ed tech– and where they’re headed,” according to Education Dive. Bonus points for having the gall to include on this list devices you can strap to students’ heads to monitor their “cognitive activity.”

    Virtual Reality Can Teach Altruism, Empathy – and Why You Should Use Less Toilet Paper,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yelp for Colleges? An Economist Rates Its Usefulness.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Rural America Is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age.”

    “A Guide for Resisting Edtech: the Case against Turnitinby Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel.

    Hey, I wonder what the blockchain is up to these days? Oh.

    “After Delta Air Lines and Bank of America pulled their sponsorship from the New York Public Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, scholars were quick to lampoon the decision,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Microsoft is really scared of Chromebooks in businesses and schools,” according to The Verge.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Journals’ Retreat From Data-Sharing Mandate Puts Onus on Universities and Government.”

    Teach for America but for Afghanistan.

    Via Scientific American: “Revenge of the Super Lice.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    Via Edsurge: “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced it will contribute $5 million into a fund operated by Landed, a startup that helps teachers pay down payments on homes in the Redwood City, Ravenswood City, and Sequoia Union High School districts in the peninsula region.”

    Landed, founded in 2015, will pay half of a teacher’s down payment for a home. A typical down payment is 20 percent, so Landed will typically cover 10 percent. Teachers do not have to pay back this loan. Rather, the company takes 25 percent of the gain or loss when the house gets sold again. (If the teacher never sells, he or she will have to repay Landed before the end of the investment term.)

    Via The New York Times: “Jeff Bezos Wants Ideas for Philanthropy, So He Asked Twitter.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Top Hat has raised $7.5 million from Learners Fund. The digital clicker company has raised $49.4 million total.

    Mrs. Wordsmith has raised $2.5 million from Kindred Capital, SaatchiNvest, Ropart Asset Management, and Reach Capital. It’s a digital worksheet company.

    Zzish has raised $180,000 in funding from LEAF Investments. The company, which helps developers monetize education apps, has raised $4.62 million total.

    Resume Clip has raised $50,000 in seed funding from Swami Shrikanthanand. The company helps students make videos to market themselves to recruiters.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “Want Your Students to Remember You in 20 Years? Start Holding Weekly Data Conferences,” says Edsurge. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.

    Also via Edsurge: “From High School to Harvard, Students Urge for Clarity on Privacy Rights.”

    The Calgary Board of Education has sent a notice to parents, warning them of the data breach at Edmodo. I wonder how many schools and districts that use the software have done this?

    Data and “Research”

    One in four Muslim bullying incidents involves a teacher, Mic reports.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Pre-K boosts future incomes and reduces risk of jail, especially when schools spend more.”

    “More Than Half of School Expenditures Spent on Classroom Instruction,” says the Census Bureau.

    From the press release: “Only thirteen percent of educators give their school/university an ‘A’ when asked to rank their available technology’s ability to improve the learning experience for students, according to a new study from public relations and digital marketing agency, Walker Sands Communications.”

    Via Edsurge: “Education Technology Tools for Adult Learners Get Mixed Results From SRI Study.”

    Via Columbia University Teacher College’s press release: “Ed Tech Purchasers Prefer Independently Researched Products.”

    Research published in the journal Science, as reported by Inside Higher Ed: “Adolescents who see widespread layoffs around them as they grow up are less likely to enroll in college – even if no one in their family loses a job.”

    Via NPR: “How To Apply The Brain Science Of Resilience To The Classroom.”

    Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “Wave of New Ed Tech In K–12 to Usher In Classroom Redesigns, Survey Finds.”

    Via Campus Technology: “IoT to Represent More Than Half of Connected Device Landscape by 2021.”

    According to Education Week’s “Inside Research” blog: “For Education Interventions, a Little ‘Nudge’ Can Go a Long Way.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “According to a new study from the Brookings Institution, students who are the least well prepared for traditional college also fare the worst in online courses. For top students, taking an online course didn’t definitively have a negative effect on a student’s grade point average. But for others – especially lower-performing students – taking online courses was associated with higher dropout rates and lower grades, both at the time the course was taken and in future semesters, when compared to students who took classes in person.”

    “Study of the Week” from FdB: “Of Course Virtual K–12 Schools Don’t Work.” And I guess I missed his “Study of the Week” last week: “Study of the Week: Trade Schools Are No Panacea.”

    “​OER Researchers Don’t Disaggregate Data on Diverse Students. Here’s Why They Should,” New America’s Manuela Ekowo argues.

    Via NPR: “DeVos Says More Money Won’t Help Schools; Research Says Otherwise.”

    “Whither Moodle?” – data about LMS adoption from Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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